Table of Contents
Some of the terms used in this publication are defined in the following paragraphs.
A pension is generally a series of payments made to you after you retire from work. Pension payments are made regularly and are for past services with an employer.
An annuity is a series of payments under a contract. You can buy the contract alone or you can buy it with the help of your employer. Annuity payments are made regularly for more than one full year.
Annuities for a single life. You receive definite amounts at regular intervals for life. The payments end at death.
Joint and survivor annuities. The first annuitant receives a definite amount at regular intervals for life. After he or she dies, a second annuitant receives a definite amount at regular intervals for life. The amount paid to the second annuitant may or may not differ from the amount paid to the first annuitant.
Variable annuities. You receive payments that may vary in amount for a definite length of time or for life. The amounts you receive may depend upon such variables as profits earned by the pension or annuity funds or cost-of-living indexes.
Disability pensions. You are under minimum retirement age and receive payments because you retired on disability. If, at the time of your retirement, you were permanently and totally disabled, you may be eligible for the credit for the elderly or the disabled discussed in Publication 524.
If your annuity starting date is after November 18, 1996, the General Rule cannot be used for the following qualified plans.
A qualified employee plan is an employer's stock bonus, pension, or profit-sharing plan that is for the exclusive benefit of employees or their beneficiaries. This plan must meet Internal Revenue Code requirements. It qualifies for special tax benefits, including tax deferral for employer contributions and rollover distributions.
A qualified employee annuity is a retirement annuity purchased by an employer for an employee under a plan that meets Internal Revenue Code requirements.
A tax-sheltered annuity is a special annuity plan or contract purchased for an employee of a public school or tax-exempt organization.
The General Rule is used to figure the tax treatment of various types of pensions and annuities, including nonqualified employee plans. A nonqualified employee plan is an employer's plan that does not meet Internal Revenue Code requirements. It does not qualify for most of the tax benefits of a qualified plan.
This section explains how the periodic payments you receive under a pension or annuity plan are taxed under the General Rule. Periodic payments are amounts paid at regular intervals (such as weekly, monthly, or yearly) for a period of time greater than one year (such as for 15 years or for life). These payments are also known as amounts received as an annuity.
If you receive an amount from your plan that is a nonperiodic payment (amount not received as an annuity), see Taxation of Nonperiodic Payments in Publication 575.
In general, you can recover your net cost of the pension or annuity tax free over the period you are to receive the payments. The amount of each payment that is more than the part that represents your net cost is taxable. Under the General Rule, the part of each annuity payment that represents your net cost is in the same proportion that your investment in the contract is to your expected return. These terms are explained in the following discussions.
In figuring how much of your pension or annuity is taxable under the General Rule, you must figure your investment in the contract.
First, find your net cost of the contract as of the annuity starting date (defined later). To find this amount, you must first figure the total premiums, contributions, or other amounts paid. This includes the amounts your employer contributed if you were required to include these amounts in income. It also includes amounts you actually contributed (except amounts for health and accident benefits and deductible voluntary employee contributions).
From this total cost you subtract:
Any refunded premiums, rebates, dividends, or unrepaid loans (any of which were not included in your income) that you received by the later of the annuity starting date or the date on which you received your first payment.
Any additional premiums paid for double indemnity or disability benefits.
Any other tax-free amounts you received under the contract or plan before the later of the dates in (1).
On January 1 you completed all your payments required under an annuity contract providing for monthly payments starting on August 1, for the period beginning July 1. The annuity starting date is July 1. This is the date you use in figuring your investment in the contract and your expected return (discussed later).
If any of the following items apply, adjust (add or subtract) your total cost to find your net cost.
Before 1963 by your employer for that work, or
After 1962 by your employer for that work if you performed the services under a plan that existed on March 12, 1962.
The expected return ( discussed later) of an annuity depends entirely or partly on the life of one or more individuals,
The contract provides that payments will be made to a beneficiary or the estate of an annuitant on or after the death of the annuitant if a stated amount or a stated number of payments has not been paid to the annuitant or annuitants before death, and
The payments are a refund of the amount you paid for the annuity contract.
Both annuitants are age 74 or younger,
The payments are guaranteed for less than 2½ years, and
The survivor's annuity is at least 50% of the first annuitant's annuity.
The payments are guaranteed for less than 2½ years, and
The annuitant is:
Age 57 or younger (if using the new (unisex) annuity tables),
Age 42 or younger (if male and using the old annuity tables), or
Age 47 or younger (if female and using the old annuity tables).
The first example shows how to figure the value of the refund feature when there is only one beneficiary. Example 2 shows how to figure the value of the refund feature when the contract provides, in addition to a whole life annuity, one or more temporary life annuities for the lives of children. In both examples, the taxpayer elects to use Tables V through VIII. If you need the value of the refund feature for a joint and survivor annuity, write to the Internal Revenue Service as explained under Requesting a Ruling on Taxation of Annuity, near the end of this publication.
At age 65, Barbara bought for $21,053 an annuity with a refund feature. She will get $100 a month for life. Barbara's contract provides that if she does not live long enough to recover the full $21,053, similar payments will be made to her surviving beneficiary until a total of $21,053 has been paid under the contract. In this case, the contract cost and the total guaranteed return are the same ($21,053). Barbara's investment in the contract is figured as follows:
|Amount to be received annually||$1,200|
|Number of years for which payment is guaranteed ($21,053 divided by $1,200)||17.54|
|Rounded to nearest whole number of years||18|
|Percentage from Actuarial Table VII for age 65 with 18 years of guaranteed payments||15%|
|Value of the refund feature (rounded to the nearest dollar)—15% of $21,053||3,158|
|Investment in the contract, adjusted for value of refund feature||$17,895|
If the total guaranteed return were less than the $21,053 net cost of the contract, Barbara would apply the appropriate percentage from the tables to the lesser amount. For example, if the contract guaranteed the $100 monthly payments for 17 years to Barbara's estate or beneficiary if she were to die before receiving all the payments for that period, the total guaranteed return would be $20,400 ($100 × 12 × 17 years). In this case, the value of the refund feature would be $2,856 (14% of $20,400) and Barbara's investment in the contract would be $18,197 ($21,053 minus $2,856) instead of $17,895.
John died while still employed. His widow, Eleanor, age 48, receives $171 a month for the rest of her life. John's son, Elmer, age 9, receives $50 a month until he reaches age 18. John's contributions to the retirement fund totaled $7,559.45, with interest on those contributions of $1,602.53. The guarantee or total refund feature of the contract is $9,161.98 ($7,559.45 plus $1,602.53).
The adjustment in the investment in the contract is figured as follows:
|1)||Widow's expected return:|
|Annual annuity ($171 × 12)||$2,052|
|Multiplied by factor from Table V|
|(nearest age 48)||34.9||$71,614.80|
|2)||Child's expected return:|
|Annual annuity ($50 × 12)||$600|
|Multiplied by factor from|
|Table VIII (nearest age 9|
|for term of 9 years)||9.0||5,400.00|
|3)||Total expected return||$77,014.80|
|B)||Adjustment for refund feature:|
|1)||Contributions (net cost)||$7,559.45|
|2)||Guaranteed amount (contributions of $7,559.45 plus interest of $1,602.53)||$9,161.98|
|3)||Minus: Expected return under child's (temporary life) annuity (A(2))||5,400.00|
|4)||Net guaranteed amount||$3,761.98|
|5)||Multiple from Table VII (nearest age 48 for 2 years duration (recovery of $3,761.98 at $171 a month to nearest whole year))||0%|
|6)||Adjustment required for value of refund feature rounded to the nearest whole dollar
(0% × $3,761.98, the smaller of B(3) or B(6))
|*Expected return is the total amount you and other eligible annuitants can expect to receive under the contract. See the discussion of expected return, later in this publication.|
Your expected return is the total amount you and other eligible annuitants can expect to receive under the contract. The following discussions explain how to figure the expected return with each type of annuity.
A person's age, for purposes of figuring the expected return, is the age at the birthday nearest to the annuity starting date.
Henry bought an annuity contract that will give him an annuity of $500 a month for his life. If at the annuity starting date Henry's nearest birthday is 66, the expected return is figured as follows:
|Annual payment ($500 × 12 months)||$6,000|
|Multiple shown in Table V, age 66||× 19.2|
If the payments were to be made to Henry quarterly and the first payment was made one full month after the annuity starting date, Henry would adjust the 19.2 multiple by +.1. His expected return would then be $115,800 ($6,000 × 19.3).
Harriet purchased an annuity this year that will pay her $200 each month for five years or until she dies, whichever period is shorter. She was age 65 at her birthday nearest the annuity starting date. She figures the expected return as follows:
|Annual payment ($200 × 12 months)||$2,400|
|Multiple shown in Table VIII, age 65, 5-year term||× 4.9|
She uses Table VIII (not Table IV) because all her contributions were made after June 30, 1986. See Special Elections, later.
John bought a joint and survivor annuity providing payments of $500 a month for his life, and, after his death, $500 a month for the remainder of his wife's life. At John's annuity starting date, his age at his nearest birthday is 70 and his wife's at her nearest birthday is 67. The expected return is figured as follows:
|Annual payment ($500 × 12 months)||$6,000|
|Multiple shown in Table VI, ages 67 and 70||× 22.0|
Gerald bought a contract providing for payments to him of $500 a month for life and, after his death, payments to his wife, Mary, of $350 a month for life. If, at the annuity starting date, Gerald's nearest birthday is 70 and Mary's is 67, the expected return under the contract is figured as follows:
|Combined multiple for Gerald and Mary, ages 70 and 67 (from Table VI)||22.0|
|Multiple for Gerald, age 70 (from Table V)||16.0|
|Difference: Multiple applicable to Mary||6.0|
|Gerald's annual payment ($500 × 12)||$6,000|
|Gerald's expected return||$96,000|
|Mary's annual payment ($350 × 12)||$4,200|
|Mary's expected return||25,200|
|Total expected return under the contract||$121,200|
Your husband died while still employed. Under the terms of his employer's retirement plan, you are entitled to get an immediate annuity of $400 a month for the rest of your life or until you remarry. Your daughters, Marie and Jean, are each entitled to immediate temporary life annuities of $150 a month until they reach age 18.
You were 50 years old at the annuity starting date. Marie was 16 and Jean was 14. Using the multiples shown in Tables V and VIII at the end of this publication, the total expected return on the annuity starting date is $169,680, figured as follows:
|Widow, age 50 (multiple from Table V—33.1 × $4,800 annual payment)||$158,880|
|Marie, age 16 for 2 years duration (multiple from Table VIII—2.0 × $1,800 annual payment)||3,600|
|Jean, age 14 for 4 years duration (multiple from Table VIII—4.0 × $1,800 annual payment)||7,200|
|Total expected return||$169,680|
No computation of expected return is made based on your husband's age at the date of death because he died before the annuity starting date.
Under the General Rule, you figure the taxable part of your annuity by using the following steps:
You purchased an annuity with an investment in the contract of $10,800. Under its terms, the annuity will pay you $100 a month for life. The multiple for your age (age 65) is 20.0 as shown in Table V. Your expected return is $24,000 (20 × 12 × $100). Your cost of $10,800, divided by your expected return of $24,000, equals 45.0%. This is the percentage you will not have to include in income.
Each year, until your net cost is recovered, $540 (45% of $1,200) will be tax free and you will include $660 ($1,200 - $540) in your income. If you had received only six payments of $100 ($600) during the year, your exclusion would have been $270 (45% of $100 × 6 payments).
Gerald bought a joint and survivor annuity. Gerald's investment in the contract is $62,712 and the expected return is $121,200. The exclusion percentage is 51.7% ($62,712 ÷ $121,200). Gerald will receive $500 a month ($6,000 a year). Each year, until his net cost is recovered, $3,102 (51.7% of his total payments received of $6,000) will be tax free and $2,898 ($6,000 - $3,102) will be included in his income. If Gerald dies, his wife will receive $350 a month ($4,200 a year). If Gerald had not recovered all of his net cost before his death, his wife will use the same exclusion percentage (51.7%). Each year, until the entire net cost is recovered, his wife will receive $2,171.40 (51.7% of her payments received of $4,200) tax free. She will include $2,028.60 ($4,200 - $2,171.40) in her income tax return.
Using the same facts as Example 2 under Different payments to survivor, you are to receive an annual annuity of $4,800 until you die or remarry. Your two daughters each receive annual annuities of $1,800 until they reach age 18. Your husband contributed $25,576 to the plan. You are eligible for the $5,000 death benefit exclusion because your husband died before August 21, 1996.
Adjusted Investment in the Contract
|Plus: Death benefit exclusion||5,000|
|Adjusted investment in the contract||$30,576|
The total expected return, as previously figured (in Example 2 under Different payments to survivor), is $169,680. The exclusion percentage of 18.0% ($30,576 ÷ $169,680) applies to the annuity payments you and each of your daughters receive. Each full year $864 (18.0% × $4,800) will be tax free to you, and you must include $3,936 in your income tax return. Each year, until age 18, $324 (18.0% × $1,800) of each of your daughters' payments will be tax free and each must include the balance, $1,476, as income on her own income tax return.
On September 28, Mary bought an annuity contract for $22,050 that will give her $125 a month for life, beginning October 30. The applicable multiple from Table V is 23.3 (age 61). Her expected return is $34,950 ($125 × 12 × 23.3). Mary's investment in the contract of $22,050, divided by her expected return of $34,950, equals 63.1%. Each payment received will consist of 63.1% return of cost and 36.9% taxable income, until her net cost of the contract is fully recovered. During the first year, Mary received three payments of $125, or $375, of which $236.63 (63.1% × $375) is a return of cost. The remaining $138.37 is included in income.
Joe's wife died while she was still employed and, as her beneficiary, he began receiving an annuity of $147 per month. In figuring the taxable part, Joe elects to use Tables V through VIII. The cost of the contract was $7,938, consisting of the sum of his wife's net contributions, adjusted for any refund feature. His expected return as of the annuity starting date is $35,280 (age 65, multiple of 20.0 × $1,764 annual payment). The exclusion percentage is $7,938 ÷ $35,280, or 22.5%. During the year he received 11 monthly payments of $147, or $1,617. Of this amount, 22.5% × $147 × 11 ($363.83) is tax free as a return of cost and the balance of $1,253.17 is taxable.
Later, because of a cost-of-living increase, his annuity payment was increased to $166 per month, or $1,992 a year (12 × $166). The tax-free part is still only 22.5% of the annuity payments as of the annuity starting date (22.5% × $147 × 12 = $396.90 for a full year). The increase of $228 ($1,992 - $1,764 (12 × $147)) is fully taxable.
Frank purchased a variable annuity at age 65. The total cost of the contract was $12,000. The annuity starting date is January 1 of the year of purchase. His annuity will be paid, starting July 1, in variable annual installments for his life. The tax-free amount of each payment, until he has recovered his cost of his contract, is:
|Investment in the contract||$12,000|
|Number of expected annual payments (multiple for age 65 from Table V)||20|
|Tax-free amount of each payment ($12,000 ÷ 20)||$600|
If Frank's first payment is $920, he includes only $320 ($920 - $600) in his gross income.
Using the facts of the previous example about Frank, assume that after Frank's $920 payment, he received $500 in the following year, and $1,200 in the year after that. Frank does not pay tax on the $500 (second year) payment because $600 of each annual pension payment is tax free. Since the $500 payment is less than the $600 annual tax-free amount, he may choose to refigure his tax-free part when he receives his $1,200 (third year) payment, as follows:
|Amount tax free in second year||$600.00|
|Amount received in second year||500.00|
|Number of remaining payments after the first 2 payments (age 67, from Table V)||18.4|
|Amount to be added to previously determined annual tax-free part ($100 ÷ 18.4)||$5.43|
|Revised annual tax-free part for third and later years ($600 + $5.43)||$605.43|
|Amount taxable in third year ($1,200 - $605.43)||$594.57|
The annuity starting date and your age on that date.
The first day of the first period for which you received an annuity payment in the current year.
Your investment in the contract as originally figured.
The total of all amounts received tax free under the annuity from the annuity starting date through the first day of the first period for which you received an annuity payment in the current tax year.
Your annuity starting date determines the total amount of annuity income that you can exclude from income over the years.
Your annuity starting date is after 1986. Your total cost is $12,500, and your net cost is $10,000, taking into account certain adjustments. There is no refund feature. Your monthly annuity payment is $833.33. Your exclusion ratio is 12% and you exclude $100 a month. Your exclusion ends after 100 months, when you have excluded your net cost of $10,000. Thereafter, your annuity payments are fully taxable.
The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that there is a refund feature, and you die after 5 years with no surviving annuitant. The adjustment for the refund feature is $1,000, so the investment in the contract is $9,000. The exclusion ratio is 10.8%, and your monthly exclusion is $90. After 5 years (60 months), you have recovered tax free only $5,400 ($90 x 60). An itemized deduction for the unrecovered net cost of $4,600 ($10,000 net cost minus $5,400) may be taken on your final income tax return. Your unrecovered investment is determined without regard to the refund feature adjustment, discussed earlier, under Adjustments.
In figuring, under the General Rule, the taxable part of your annuity payments that you are to get for the rest of your life (rather than for a fixed number of years), you must use one or more of the actuarial tables in this publication.
Effective July 1, 1986, the Internal Revenue Service adopted new annuity Tables V through VIII, in which your sex is not considered when determining the applicable factor. These tables correspond to the old Tables I through IV. In general, Tables V through VIII must be used if you made contributions to the retirement plan after June 30, 1986. If you made no contributions to the plan after June 30, 1986, generally you must use only Tables I through IV. However, if you received an annuity payment after June 30, 1986, you may elect to use Tables V through VIII (see Annuity received after June 30, 1986, later).
Although you generally must use Tables V through VIII if you made contributions to the retirement plan after June 30, 1986, and Tables I through IV if you made no contributions after June 30, 1986, you can make the following special elections to select which tables to use.
Bill, who is single, contributed $42,000 to the retirement plan and will receive an annual annuity of $24,000 for life. Payment of the $42,000 contribution is guaranteed under a refund feature. Bill is 55 years old as of the annuity starting date. For figuring the taxable part of Bill's annuity, he chose to make separate computations for his pre-July 1986 investment in the contract of $41,300, and for his post-June 1986 investment in the contract of $700.
|A.||Adjustment for refund feature|
|1) Net cost||$41,300||$700|
|2) Annual annuity—$24,000
($41,300/$42,000 × $24,000)
|($700/$42,000 × $24,000)||$400|
|3) Guarantee under contract||$41,300||$700|
|4) No. of years payments
guaranteed (rounded), A(3) ÷ A(2)
|5) Applicable percentage from
Tables III and VII
|6) Adjustment for value of refund
feature, A(5) × smaller of A(1)
|B.||Investment in the contract|
|1) Net cost||$41,300||$700|
|2) Minus: Amount in A(6)||413||0|
|3) Investment in the contract||$40,887||$700|
|1) Annual annuity receivable||$24,000||$24,000|
|2) Multiples from Tables I and V||21.7||28.6|
|3) Expected return, C(1) × C(2)||$520,800||$686,400|
|D.||Tax-free part of annuity|
|1) Exclusion ratio as decimal,
B(3) ÷ C(3)
|2) Tax-free part, C(1) × D(1)||$1,896||$24|
The tax-free part of Bill's total annuity is $1,920 ($1,896 plus $24). The taxable part of his annuity is $22,080 ($24,000 minus $1,920). If the annuity starting date is after 1986, the exclusion over the years cannot exceed the net cost (figured without any reduction for a refund feature).
Al is age 62 at his nearest birthday to the annuity starting date. Al's wife is age 60 at her nearest birthday to the annuity starting date. The joint and survivor annuity pays $1,000 per month to Al for life, and $500 per month to Al's surviving wife after his death. The pre-July 1986 investment in the contract is $53,100 and the post-June 1986 investment in the contract is $7,000. Al makes the election described in Example 1.
For purposes of this example, assume the refund feature adjustment is zero. If an adjustment is required, IRS will figure the amount. See Requesting a Ruling on Taxation of Annuity near the end of this publication.
|A.||Adjustment for refund feature|
|1) Net cost||$53,100||$7,000|
|2) Annual annuity—$12,000
($53,100/$60,100 × $12,000)
|($7,000/$60,100 × $12,000)||$1,398|
|3) Guaranteed under the contract||$53,100||$7,000|
|4) Number of years guaranteed,
rounded, A(3) ÷ A(2)
|5) Applicable percentages||0%||0%|
|6) Refund feature adjustment, A(5) × smaller of A(1) or A(3)||0||0|
|B.||Investment in the contract|
|1) Net cost||$53,100||$7,000|
|2) Refund feature adjustment||0||0|
|3) Investment in the contract adjusted for refund feature||$53,100||$7,000|
|1) Multiple for both annuitants from Tables II and VI||25.4||28.8|
|2) Multiple for first annuitant from Tables I and V||16.9||22.5|
|3) Multiple applicable to surviving annuitant, subtract C(2) from C(1)||8.5||6.3|
|4) Annual annuity to surviving annuitant||$6,000||$6,000|
|5) Portion of expected return for surviving annuitant, C(4) × C(3)||$51,000||$37,800|
|6) Annual annuity to first annuitant||$12,000||$12,000|
|7) Plus: Portion of expected return for first annuitant, C(6) × C(2)||$202,800||$270,000|
|8) Expected return for both annuitants, C(5) + C(7)||$253,800||$307,800|
|D.||Tax-free part of annuity|
|1) Exclusion ratio as a decimal, B(3) ÷ C(8)||.209||.023|
|2) Retiree's tax-free part of annuity, C(6) × D(1)||$2,508||$276|
|3) Survivor's tax-free part of annuity, C(4) × D(1)||$1,254||$138|
The tax-free part of Al's total annuity is $2,784 ($2,508 + $276). The taxable part of his annuity is $9,216 ($12,000 - $2,784). The exclusion over the years cannot exceed the net cost of the contract (figured without any reduction for a refund feature) if the annuity starting date is after 1986.
After Al's death, his widow will apply the same exclusion percentages (20.9% and 2.3%) to her annual annuity of $6,000 to figure the tax-free part of her annuity.
If you are a retiree, or the survivor of an employee or retiree, you may ask the Internal Revenue Service to help you determine the taxation of your annuity. If you make this request, you are asking for a ruling.
A request solely for the value of the refund feature is not treated as a ruling request and requires no fee. Also, if your annuity starting date is before January 1, 1987, and your contract has a refund feature, you may request help to determine the value of the refund feature without requesting a ruling.
Send your request to:
Internal Revenue Service
P. O. Box 27063
Washington, DC 20038
The user fee is allowed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit.
A letter explaining the question(s) you wish to have resolved or the information you need from the ruling.
Copies of any documents showing distributions, annuity rates, and annuity options available to you.
A copy of any Form 1099–R you received since your annuity began.
A statement indicating whether you have filed your return for the year for which you are making the request. If you have requested an extension of time to file that return, please indicate the extension date.
Your daytime phone number.
Your current mailing address.
A power of attorney if someone other than you, an attorney, a certified public accountant, or an enrolled agent is signing this request. Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, may be used for this purpose.
A completed Tax Information Sheet (or facsimile) shown on the next page. Sign and date the Disclosure and Perjury Statement (or facsimile) at the end of the tax information sheet. This statement must be signed by the retiree or the survivor annuitant. It cannot be signed by a representative.
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Central part of U.S.:
Central Area Distribution Center
P.O. Box 8903
Bloomington, IL 61702–8903
Eastern part of U.S. and foreign addresses:
Eastern Area Distribution Center
P.O. Box 85074
Richmond, VA 23261–5074
CD-ROM for tax products. You can order IRS Publication 1796, Federal Tax Products on CD-ROM, and obtain:
Current tax forms, instructions, and publications.
Prior-year tax forms and instructions.
Popular tax forms that may be filled in electronically, printed out for submission, and saved for recordkeeping.
Internal Revenue Bulletins.
The CD-ROM can be purchased from National Technical Information Service (NTIS) by calling 1–877–233–6767 or on the Internet at http://www.irs.gov/cdorders. The first release is available in early January and the final release is available in late February.
CD-ROM for small businesses. IRS Publication 3207, Small Business Resource Guide, is a must for every small business owner or any taxpayer about to start a business. This handy, interactive CD contains all the business tax forms, instructions and publications needed to successfully manage a business. In addition, the CD provides an abundance of other helpful information, such as how to prepare a business plan, finding financing for your business, and much more. The design of the CD makes finding information easy and quick and incorporates file formats and browsers that can be run on virtually any desktop or laptop computer.
It is available in March. You can get a free copy by calling 1–800–829–3676 or by visiting the website at www.irs.gov/smallbiz.
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