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Series of payments at fixed intervals, guaranteed for a fixed number of years or the lifetime of one or more individuals. Similar to a pension, the money is paid out of an investment contract under which the annuitant(s) deposit certain sums (in a lump sum or in installments) with an annuity guarantor (usually a government agency or an insurance firm). The amount paid back includes principal and interest, either or both of which (depending on the local regulations) may be tax exempt. An annuity is not an insurance policy but a tax-shelter.