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LANCE WALLACH EXPERT WITNESS CLICK HERE NOW!

When you hire someone so qualified that he has been an expert witness you can be confident you are getting the BEST.

Click HERE to listen to  expert “Lance Wallach” speak about listed transactions,  419 plan issues,  welfare benefit plans and annuities, and how new IRS regulations can affect you if you participated in one of these types of benefit plans. Then make sure YOU obtain his services before your adversary does.

Remember, you could still be penalized for failure to file Form “8886” and those IRS penalties can be severe.

Abusive Insurance, Welfare Benefit, and Retirement Plans

The A2Z Directory                       March 2011

Lance Wallach                                                                                 

The IRS has various task forces auditing all section 419, section 412(i), and other plans that tend to be abusive.  Most insurance agents sell these plans.  The IRS is looking to raise money and is not looking to correct plans or help taxpayers. The IRS calls accountants, attorneys, and insurance agents “material advisors” and also fines them the same amount, again unless the client’s participation in the transaction is reported.  An accountant is a material advisor if he signs the return or gives advice and gets paid.  More details can be found onwww.irs.gov and vebaplan.org.

Bruce Hink, who has given me written permission to use his name and circumstances, is a perfect example of what the IRS is doing to unsuspecting business owners.  What follows is a story about how the IRS fines him each year for being in what they called a listed transaction.  Listed transactions can be found at www.irs.gov.  Also involved are what the IRS calls abusive plans or what it refers to as substantially similar.  Substantially similar to is very difficult to understand, but the IRS seems to be saying, “If it looks like some other listed transaction, the fines apply.”  Also, I believe that the accountant who signed the tax return and the insurance agent who sold the retirement plan will each be fined as material advisors.  We have received many calls for help from accountants,attorneys, business owners, and insurance agents in similar situations.  Don’t think this will happen to you?  It is happening to a lot of accountants and business owners, because most of theses so-called listed, abusive, or insurance agents are selling substantially similar plans. Recently I came across the case of Hink, a small business owner who is facing thousands in IRS penalties for 2004 and 2005 because of his participation in a section 412(i) plan.  (The penalties were assessed under section 6707A.)

In 2002 an insurance agent representing a 100-year-old, well-established insurance company suggested the owner start a pension plan.  The owner was given a portfolio of information from the insurance company, which was given to the company’s outside CPA to review and give an opinion on.  The CPA gave the plan the green light and the plan was started. Contributions were made in 2003.  The plan administrator came out with amendments to the plan, based on new IRS guidelines, in October 2004. The business owner’s insurance agent disappeared in May 2005, before implementing the new guidelines from the administrator with the insurance company.  The business owner was left with a refund check from the insurance company, a deduction claim on his 2004 tax return that had not been applied, and no agent.

It took six months of making calls to the insurance company to get a new insurance agent assigned.  By then, the IRS had started an examination of the pension plan.  Asking advice from the CPA and a local attorney (who had no previous experience in these cases) made matters worse, with a “big name” law firm being recommended and over ,000 in additional legal fees being billed in three months. To make a long story short, the audit stretched on for over 2 ½ years to examine a 2-year-old pension with four participants and the 8,000 in contributions. During the audit, no funds went to the insurance company, which was awaiting formal IRS approval on restructuring the plan as a traditional defined benefit plan, which the administrator had suggested and the IRS had indicated would be acceptable.In March 2008 the business owner received a private e-mail apology from the IRS agent who headed the examination, saying that her hands were tied and that she used to believe she was correcting problems and helping taxpayers and not hurting people.

Could you or one of your clients be next?

To this point, I have focused, generally, on the horrors of running afoul of the IRS by participating in a listed transaction, which includes various types of transactions and the various fines that can be imposed on business owners and their advisors who participate in, sell, or advice on these transactions.  I happened to use, as an example, someone in a section 412(i) plan, which was deemed to be a listed transaction, pointing out the truly doleful consequences the person has suffered.  Others who fall into this trap, even unwittingly, can suffer the same fate.

Now let’s go into more detail about section 412(i) plans.  This is important because these defined benefit plans are popular and because few people think of retirement plans as tax shelters or listed transactions.  People therefore may get into serious trouble in this area unwittingly, out of ignorance of the law, and, for the same reason, many fail to take necessary and appropriate precautions. The IRS has warned against the section 412(i) defined benefit pension plans, named for the former code section governing them.  It warned against trust arrangements it deems abusive, some of which may be regarded as listed transactions.  Falling into that category can result in taxpayers having to disclose the participation under pain of penalties. Targets also include some retirement plans.

One reason for the harsh treatment of some 412(i) plans is their discrimination in favor of owners and key, highly compensated employees.  Also, the IRS does not consider the promised tax relief proportionate to the economic realities of the transactions.  In general, IRS auditors divide audited plan into those they consider noncompliant and other they consider abusive.  While the alternatives available to the sponsor of noncompliant plan are problematic, it is frequently an option to keep the plan alive in some form while simultaneously hoping to minimize the financial fallout from penalties.

The sponsor of an abusive plan can expect to be treated more harshly than participants.  Although in some situation something can be salvaged, the possibility is definitely on the table of having to treat the plan as if it never existed, which of course triggers the full extent of back taxes, penalties, and interest on all contributions that were made – not to mention leaving behind no retirement plan whatsoever. Another plan the IRS is auditing is the section 419 plan.  A few listed transactions concern relatively common employee benefit plans the IRS has deemed tax avoidance schemes or otherwise abusive.  Perhaps some of the most likely to crop up, especially in small-business returns, are the arrangements purporting to allow the deductibility of premiums paid for life insurance under a welfare benefit plan or section 419 plan.  These plans have been sold by most insurance agents and insurance companies.

How do insurance agents and companies handle untruths on behalf of their clients? 

The incontestability clause was originally designed to manage situations wherein an applicant fails to mention something that is relevant to a life insurance policy and how it is approved and issued.  In the case of these omissions, the clause can be used to contest payout of the policy if the applicant dies within two or three years of the issuance.

If a smoker, for example, dies outside of the contestability period and is denied a death claim for misrepresenting his smoker status – generally the insurance company cannot void the contract after the contestability period ends.

Our forum members discussed this issue, and noted that if caught within two years of the policy issue, a revocation of the policy might occur.  After two years, the death benefit would be paid in full, unless the state courts had allowed another way to rescind the policy.  But whether the insurance company includes a fraud provision or not, the state does not provide an escape clause in the case of fraud against an insurance company.
Breaking News: Don’t Become A Material
Advisor

Accountants, insurance professionals and others need to be careful that they
don’t become what the IRS calls material advisors.  If they sell or give advice,
or sign tax returns for abusive, listed or similar plans; they risk a minimum
$100,000 fine. Their client will then probably sue them after having dealt with
the IRS.

In 2010, the IRS raided the offices of  and seized
the retirement benefit plan administration firm’s files and records. In
McGehee Family Clinic, the Tax Court ruled that a clinic and shareholder’s
investment in an employee benefit plan marketed under the name
was a listed transaction because it was substantially similar to the
transaction described in Notice 95-34 (1995-1 C.B. 309). This is at least the
second case in which the court has ruled against the welfare benefit
plan, by denominating it a listed transaction.

The McGehee Family Clinic enrolled in the Benistar Plan in May 2001 and
claimed deductions for contributions to it in 2002 and 2005. The returns did
not include a Form 8886, Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement, or
similar disclosure. The IRS disallowed the latter deduction and adjusted the
2004 return of shareholder Robert Prosser and his wife to include the
$50,000 payment to the plan.  Click here to read more.

California Broker, June 2011
Employee Retirement Plans

By Lance Wallach

412i, 419, Captive Insurance and Section 79 Plans; Buyer Beware

The IRS has been attacking all 419 welfare benefit plans, many 412i retirement plans, captive insurance plans with life insurance in them, and Section 79 plans.  IRS is aggressively auditing various plans and calling them “listed transactions,” “abusive tax shelters,” or “reportable transactions,” participation in any of which must be disclosed to the Service.  The result has been IRS audits, disallowances, and huge fines for not properly reporting under IRC 6707A.

In a recent tax court case, Curico v. Commissioner (TC Memo 2010-115), the Tax Court ruled that an investment in an employee welfare benefit plan marketed under the name “Benistar” was a listed transaction.  It was substantially similar to the transaction described in IRS Notice 95-34.  A subsequent case, McGehee Family Clinic, largely followed Curico, though it was technically decided on other grounds.  The parties stipulated to be bound by Curico regarding whether the amounts paid by McGehee in connection with the Benistar 419 Plan and Trust were deductible.  Curico did not appear to have been decided yet at the time McGehee was argued.  The McGehee opinion (Case No. 10-102) (United States Tax Court, September 15, 2010) does contain an exhaustive analysis and discussion of virtually all of the relevant issues.  Taxpayers and their representatives should be aware that the Service has disallowed deductions for
contributions to these arrangements.  The IRS is cracking down on small business owners who participate in tax reduction insurance plans and the brokers who sold them.  Some of these plans include defined benefit retirement plans, IRAs, or even 401(k) plans with life insurance. Click here to read full article.

Section 79, Captive Insurance, 419,412i Plans

Don’t go to Arbitration Sue

  Lance Wallach


Thomas, Francis, Edward, and Dolores Ehlen1(“the Ehlens”) are employees of Ehlen Floor Covering, Inc. (“Ehlen Floor”). In 2002, Ehlen Floor created a 412(I) employee benefit pension plan, the Ehlen Floor Coverings Retirement Plan (“the Plan”), with the help of advisors and administrators. IPS, a corporation specializing in pension plan design and administration for small businesses, took over as the Plan administrator at the start of 2003. As part of the commencement of IPS’s services, Edward Ehlen, in his capacity as president of Ehlen Floor, signed an Arbitration Addendum (“AA”) attached to an Administrative Services Agreement (“the Agreement”) between IPS and Ehlen Floor. The AA called for arbitration of “any claim arising out of the rendition or lack of rendition of services under [the] [A]greement.” The Agreement provided a list of available services that IPS could provide, such as performing annual reviews of the Plan, making amendments, and preparing annual report forms. The Agreement also stated that Ehlen Floor would indicate in Section VI of the Agreement which of the available services it desired for IPS to actually perform. There is no Section VI in the Agreement, nor is there any testimony or evidence that plaintiffs ever viewed a Section VI of the Agreement.

Shortly after IPS stepped in as administrator of the Plan, it became aware that the Plan was not in compliance with several Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) rules and regulations. IPS contends that it drafted an amendment to correct these flaws, but the amendment was never officially adopted. In 2004, the IRS promulgated new rules explaining that it would consider 412(i) plans with beneficiary payout limitations to be listed transactions2, possibly subject to serious penalties. The rule required any plans that could be considered listed transactions to file Form 8886 to avoid potential penalties. IPS drafted another amendment to the Plan after determining that the Plan would likely be classified as a listed transaction under the new rules. Ehlen Floor was not informed about the pre-rule tax problems, the existence of the new rule, the additional filing requirements that the new rule imposed, or the drafting of the new amendment. The IRS instigated an audit on March 6, 2006, found the Plan to be non-compliant, and ultimately assessed significant penalties against Ehlen Floor.

In August 2007, plaintiffs filed a complaint in state court against a number of parties involved with the creation and initial administration of the Plan, asserting claims of negligence, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, negligent supervision, breaches of fiduciary duties, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. The case was removed to federal court on the basis of preemption under ERISA. In May 2009, as requested by the court, plaintiffs recast their complaints as federal matters in their Second Amended Complaint, but plaintiffs contested the removal and argued against federal jurisdiction. IPS was added as a defendant in the Second Amended Complaint. IPS then moved to compel arbitration of the dispute, claiming that the terms of the AA govern the matter. The district court denied the motion. IPS appeals; plaintiffs cross-appeal to challenge the existence of federal jurisdiction.

  1. STANDARD

Innovative Pension Strategies, Inc. (“IPS”) appeals the district court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration and stay plaintiffs’ claims against it. Plaintiffs cross-appeal, disputing the preemption of their claims under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) and alleging a lack of federal jurisdiction. We find that jurisdiction is proper and affirm the district court’s denial of IPS’s motion to compel arbitration.

We therefore affirm the district court’s denial of IPS’s motion to compel arbitration and to stay plaintiffs’ claims against it.

Lance Wallach can be reached at: WallachInc@gmail.com

For more information, please visit www.taxadvisorexperts.org Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, abusive tax shelters, financial, international tax, and estate planning.  He writes about 412(i), 419, Section79, FBAR, and captive insurance plans. He speaks at more than ten conventions annually, writes for over fifty publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows including NBC, National Pubic Radio’s All Things Considered, and others. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as the AICPA best-selling books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots. He does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visitwww.taxadvisorexperts.com.

Lance Wallach
68 Keswick Lane
Plainview, NY 11803
Ph.: (516)938-5007
Fax: (516)938-6330 www.vebaplan.com

National Society of Accountants Speaker of The Year

The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

“Retirement Plans”     Alert!
Due to recent changes in “IRS regulations”, most “419 plans” and “412i plans” are now in violation of the tax laws, and could subject both participants and their “material advisors” to large “IRS tax penalties”! The IRS is auditing many of these “benefit plans” right now.Let “Lance Wallach” review yours BEFORE you get the “letter from the IRS”notifying you of a “pension audit” or that you may be facing “IRS penalties and interest”.

Contact us at
516 – 938 5007
for preventive advice today before it’s too late!

Nationwide Assistance!

Click on the links below to view some of Lance’s many helpful articles.

Get Sued!

Small Business Retirement Plans Fuel Litigation

When you have “IRS problems”, you need a proven winner to stand up to them and help you avoid “IRS audits”and IRS penalties and interest. If you are suffering from IRS tax penalties regarding “419 plans” and 412i plans, captive insurance or Section 79 plans,you need “Lance Wallach” because with him as an expert witness,

his side has
NEVER LOST A CASE!

Kenny Hartstein, Dennis Cunning, Steve Toth, Larry Bell, Scott Ridge, Randall Smith, Greg Roper, Tracy Sunderlage, Joseph Donnelly, Norm Bevan, Michael Sonnenberg, Judy Carsrud, Dan Carpenter, Michael Carroll, Anthony Fakouri,Steve Burgess

Content copyright 2015. TaxAdvis

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California Society of Enrolled Agents

California Society of Enrolled Agents

The IRS started auditing § 419 plans in the 1990s, and then continued going after § 412(i) and other plans that they considered abusive, listed, or reportable transactions, or substantially similar to such transactions. If an IRS audit disallows the § 419 plan or the § 412(i) plan, not only does the taxpayer lose the deduction and pay interest and penalties, but then the IRS comes back under IRC 6707A and imposes large fines for not properly filing.Insurance agents, financial planners and even accountants sold many of these plans.

The main motivations for buying into one were large tax deductions. The motivation for the sellers of the plans was the very large life insurance premiums generated. These plans, which were vetted by the insurance companies, put lots of insurance on the books. Some of these plans continue to be sold, even after IRS disallowances and lawsuits against insurance agents, plan promoters and insurance companies.In a recent tax court case, Curcio v. Commissioner (TC Memo 2010-115), the tax court ruled that an investment in an employee welfare benefit plan marketed under the name “Benistar” was a listed transaction in that the transaction in question was substantially similar to the transaction described in IRS Notice 95-34. A subsequent case, McGehee Family Clinic, largely followed Curcio, though it was technically decided on other grounds. The parties stipulated to be bound by Curcio on the issue of whether the amounts paid by McGehee in connection with the Benistar 419 Plan and Trust were deductible.

Curcio did not appear to have been decided yet at the time McGehee was argued. The McGehee opinion (Case No. 10-102, United States Tax Court, September 15, 2010) does contain an exhaustive analysis and discussion of virtually all of the relevant issues.Taxpayers and their representatives should be aware that the IRS has disallowed deductions for contributions to these arrangements. The IRS is cracking down on small business owners who participate in tax reduction insurance plans and the brokers who sold them. Some of these plans include defined benefit retirement plans, IRAs, or even 401(k) plans with life insurance.In order to fully grasp the severity of the situation, one must have an understanding of IRS Notice 95-34, which was issued in response to trust arrangements sold to companies that were designed to provide deductible benefits such as life insurance, disability and severance pay benefits. The promoters of these arrangements claimed that all employer contributions were tax-deductible when paid, by relying on the 10-or-more-employer exemption from the IRC § 419 limits. It was claimed that permissible tax deductions were unlimited in amount.  In general, contributions to a welfare benefit fund are not fully deductible when paid. Sections 419 and 419A impose strict limits on the amount of tax-deductible prefunding permitted for contributions to a welfare benefit fund. Section 419A(F)(6) provides an exemption from § 419 and § 419A for certain “10-or-more employers” welfare benefit funds. In general, for this exemption to apply, the fund must have more than one contributing employer, of which no single employer can contribute more than 10 percent of the total contributions, and the plan must not be experience-rated with respect to individual employers.According to the Notice, these arrangements typically involve an investment in variable life or universal life insurance contracts on the lives of the covered employees. The problem is that the employer contributions are large relative to the cost of the amount of term insurance that would be required to provide the death benefits under the arrangement, and the trust administrator may obtain cash to pay benefits other than death benefits, by such means as cashing in or withdrawing the cash value of the insurance policies.

The plans are also often designed so that a particular employer’s contributions or its employees’ benefits may be determined in a way that insulates the employer to a significant extent from the experience of other subscribing employers. In general, the contributions and claimed tax deductions tend to be disproportionate to the economic realities of the arrangements.Benistar advertised that enrollees should expect to obtain the same type of tax benefits as listed in the transaction described in Notice 95-34. The benefits of enrollment listed in its advertising packet included:Virtually unlimited deductions for the employer;Contributions could vary from year to year;Benefits could be provided to one or more key executives on a selective basis;No need to provide benefits to rank-and-file employees;Contributions to the plan were not limited by qualified plan rules and would not interfere with pension, profit sharing or 401(k) plans;Funds inside the plan would accumulate tax-free;Beneficiaries could receive death proceeds free of both income tax and estate tax;The program could be arranged for tax-free distribution at a later date;Funds in the plan were secure from the hands of creditors.The Court said that the Benistar Plan was factually similar to the plans described in Notice 95-34 at all relevant times.In rendering its decision the court heavily cited Curcio, in which the court also ruled in favor of the IRS. As noted in Curcio, the insurance policies, overwhelmingly variable or universal life policies, required large contributions relative to the cost of the amount of term insurance that would be required to provide the death benefits under the arrangement. The Benistar Plan owned the insurance contracts.Following Curcio, as the Court has stipulated, the Court held that the contributions to Benistar were not deductible under § 162(a) because participants could receive the value reflected in the underlying insurance policies purchased by Benistar—despite the payment of benefits by Benistar seeming to be contingent upon an unanticipated event (the death of the insured while employed). As long as plan participants were willing to abide by Benistar’s distribution policies, there was no reason ever to forfeit a policy to the plan. In fact, in estimating life insurance rates, the taxpayers’ expert in Curcio assumed that there would be no forfeitures, even though he admitted that an insurance company would generally assume a reasonable rate of policy lapses.The McGehee Family Clinic had enrolled in the Benistar Plan in May 2001 and claimed deductions for contributions to it in 2002 and 2005. The returns did not include a Form 8886, Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement, or similar disclosure.The IRS disallowed the latter deduction and adjusted the 2004 return of shareholder Robert Prosser and his wife to include the $50,000 payment to the plan. The IRS also assessed tax deficiencies and the enhanced 30 percent penalty totaling almost $21,000 against the clinic and $21,000 against the Prossers. The court ruled that the Prossers failed to prove a reasonable cause or good faith exception.

Other important facts:

In recent years, some § 412(i) plans have been funded with life insurance using face amounts in excess of the maximum death benefit a qualified plan is permitted to pay.  Ideally, the plan should limit the proceeds that can be paid as a death benefit in the event of a participant’s death.  Excess amounts would revert to the plan.  Effective February 13, 2004, the purchase of excessive life insurance in any plan is considered a listed transaction if the face amount of the insurance exceeds the amount that can be issued by $100,000 or more and the employer has deducted the premiums for the insuranceA 412(i) plan in and of itself is not a listed transaction; however, the IRS has a task force auditing 412(i) plans.An employer has not engaged in a listed transaction simply because it is a 412(i) plan.Just because a 412(i) plan was audited and sanctioned for certain items, does not necessarily mean the plan engaged in a listed transaction. Some 412(i) plans have been audited and sanctioned for issues not related to listed transactions.Companies should carefully evaluate proposed investments in plans such as the Benistar Plan. The claimed deductions will not be available, and penalties will be assessed for lack of disclosure if the investment is similar to the investments described in Notice 95-34. In addition, under IRC 6707A, IRS fines participants a large amount of money for not properly disclosing their participation in listed, reportable or similar transactions; an issue that was not before the tax court in either Curcio or McGehee. The disclosure needs to be made for every year the participant is in a plan. The forms need to be properly filed even for years that no contributions are made. I have received numerous calls from participants who did disclose and still got fined because the forms were not filled in properly. A plan administrator told me that he assisted hundreds of his participants with filing forms, and they still all received very large IRS fines for not properly filling in the forms.IRS has targeted all 419 welfare benefit plans, many 412(i) retirement plans, captive insurance plans with life insurance in them and Section 79 plans.Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the American Institute of CPAs faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, and abusive tax shelters.  He speaks at more than ten conventions annually and writes for over fifty publications. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as AICPA best-selling books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots.

He does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case. Mr. Wallach may be reached at 516/938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com, or at http://www.taxaudit419.com or http://www.lancewallach.com.

The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

How to Find the Right Experts to Guide You Through These Times

The Commercial Flooring Report

By Lance Wallach

January 2009

 

These days, business owners have a lot on their plates. Not only do they have businesses to run, but they need to have the resources to operate, manage, and flourish those businesses in order to stay afloat. Without serious knowledge of things like finances, taxes, tax audits, and retirement plans, it’s hard to keep a shop open for business and to ensure that your future is in good hands. Especially now, as the economy begins to change, it is smart to look into different ways to secure your future and money. Recent well-documented events have made it increasingly important to educate yourself on how to handle such endeavors correctly.

Thousands of businesses have closed as a result of bankruptcy, corrupt policies, lowered sales, and other factors, often because issues that seemingly, in hindsight, should have been obvious were overlooked. In this environment, more than ever, you simply cannot afford mistakes or omissions with respect to your finances. Such mistakes can result in audits and other problems that could eventually lead to the closing of your establishment. Being aware of the amount of debt that you are carrying, when your sales tend to plummet, and your number of employees are three trivial yet important aspects of watching your money. Websites such as IRS.gov, financeExperts.org, and taxlibrary.us are resources that can help make sure that there are often neglected, things ZERO unpleasant surprises in your numbers. Additionally, keeping accurate records and constantly double-checking your numbers are two obvious, yet that you should do. So the question stands: how knowledgeable are you about your own finances?

 

Many of you have received information about the current state of your investments in the past few months.  Sticker shock would be an understatement. Thousands have been lost as a direct result of the fiascoes constantly occurring as of this writing. Savings that would not only brighten your futures, but in many cases investments that you planned to use for your children’s educations, are gone. The downward spiral will continue, as the shrapnel from these events moves throughout our failing economy. It won’t stop in the foreseeable future, and it will entail more than just monetary losses. The watchdog agencies that will now have to redeem themselves for failing to perform their regulatory functions, leading at least in part to all of these failures, will respond with increased scrutiny of American citizens and businesses in every manner imaginable. Trust me, no stone will be left unturned, including that of increased IRS audits for the express purpose of raising money, which in fact has already started.
All of which is why treading water in the tide of an ebbing economy is not a solution.
It would appear that the seemingly indestructible giants of Wall Street have begun to crumble. Lehman Brothers is no more, Merrill Lynch has been taken down a peg or two, and now, disaster is apparently looming over Morgan Stanley. To say nothing of the looming threat to the consumer banking industry. As industry insiders, we’ve seen the writing on the wall for quite some time. Now, everybody else can see it, too.
In this day, the veil has been pulled back on the stock market’s heavy hitters. Consumers now know there is indeed no “wizard” behind the curtain, just a few individuals in designer suits pulling down astronomical sums of money for the advice they send down from on high. Who can forget the images of the Lehman Brothers employees in New York City, emptying their offices into boxes and carrying them down Seventh Avenue? As sad as it was to see, it was a day we all had the feeling was coming, right? But now that it’s here, why don’t we feel any better?
The hopes of many investors in the stock market have been shaken to the core, but we cannot forget about the morose consumers and business owners. A number of individuals are suffering the potentially substantial loss (or potential loss) of their hard-earned money in a volatile market. Consumers need advisors who can guide them toward a safe harbor. As previously mentioned, financeexperts.org can give you the help you need in this failing economy. The leading authorities are members, and will most likely give helpful feedback. Consumers are fearful, and if they say they aren’t, it’s probable that they aren’t being honest. For most Americans today, a stress free retirement is looking more and more impossible, and the difficulties looming between ourselves and that goal seem insurmountable.  But things do not have to look and seem so bleak.
In a sense of the word, we feel compassion. Too many scoundrels plague Wall Street but, to some degree, we all feel the brunt. Be it for the out of work traders and brokers, or the investors who are wondering what is going to happen to their futures, we all feel some concern. But when it comes to who will receive most of our compassion, my money is on the investors. We hate to have an “I told you so” attitude, but at times it is hard to avoid. However, rather than dwell on this compassion, why not capitalize on it? Often unforeseen opportunities arise from the ashes of situations such as these. In fact, many such opportunities are available as I write this. They will be taken advantage of by those with the imagination and talent to position themselves to do so.

 

By reading this, you may be off to a good start. There are many ideas you will get from our leading finance experts to better run your business, reduce taxes and insurance costs, and much more. You will learn how to avoid audits, which are already up fifty (50) percent and are expected to increase further still, and turn your accountant into your protector instead of a tax collector. You will learn from Lance Wallach, who, as an American Institute of CPAs instructor and course developer, teaches CPAs. Lance also draws upon the knowledge and expertise of his associates, who are the leading finance experts in the United States. None of them work for any of the firms that were affected by the recent and ongoing financial fiascoes. Many of them perceived the arrival of these problems, and only their clients benefited because most other business people were too busy buying products from stockbrokers, insurance agents, and so-called financial planners who did not know what was going on. In Lance’s spare time, between speaking at conventions, writing and helping a select few business owners, Lance appears as an expert witness. In fact, for two days in Sept 2008, Lance Wallach testified as an expert witness in Federal Court for a business owner that was sold a faulty financial product by a combination of his accountant and a so-called retirement plan expert. After Lance completed his testimony, the judge call the retirement plan salesman a “crook” and said that he should settle with the plaintiff. He did not, and the jury awarded the business owner TWICE what he had sued for. As a side note, Lance had advised the lawyer that this was a so called “ERISA case” and instead of the $400,000 that the business owner was suing for, $800,000 (double damages, as is possible in “ERISA” cases), could be awarded if the jury felt that was appropriate.
The point is that, under no circumstances, should you be forced to lay down and take the abuse and malpractice that most salespeople pin on you. Get your financial and business affairs in order, and, if necessary, take some action! Take some serious action!

 

 

Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, and abusive tax shelters.  He writes about 412(i), 419, and captive insurance plans. He speaks at more than ten conventions annually, writes for over fifty publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows including NBC, National Pubic Radio’s All Things Considered, and others. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as AICPA best-selling books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots. He does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit www.taxaudit419.com.

 

The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

 

 

 

 

IRS Makes Taxpayers Aware of Many Scams That Will Get Them in Trouble

RetirementSociety.com | January 19, 2011

By Lance Wallach

“Taxpayers should be wary of scams to avoid paying taxes that seem too good to be true, especially during these challenging economic times,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “There is no secret trick that can eliminate a person’s tax obligations. People should be wary of anyone peddling any of these scams.”

Tax schemes are illegal and can lead to problems for both scam artists and taxpayers who risk significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution.

The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these common schemes.

Abusive Retirement Plans

The IRS continues to uncover abuses in retirement plan arrangements, including Roth Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). The IRS is looking for transactions that taxpayers are using to avoid the limitations on contributions to IRAs as well as transactions that are not properly reported as early distributions. Taxpayers should be wary of advisers who encourage them to shift appreciated assets into IRAs or companies owned by their IRAs at less than fair market value to circumvent annual contribution limits. Other variations have included the use of limited liability companies to engage in activity that is considered prohibited.

419 Plans

If they have cash value life insurance in them they are abusive. Some of the plans like Nova, run by Benistar can also be criminal. For more on 419 plans visit www.taxaudit419.com

412i Plans

Such plans can be abusive with cash value life insurance. For more information visit www.taxlibrary.com or www.experttaxadvisors.org.

Captive Insurance Plans

These were listed transactions and then taken off the list. IRS still looks closely at them. They are usually sold by life insurance agents.

Section 79 plans

IRS is looking very closely at section 79 plans. They are usually sold by life insurance agents.

Hiding Income Offshore

The IRS aggressively pursues taxpayers and promoters involved in abusive offshore transactions. Taxpayers have tried to avoid or evade U.S. income tax by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or through other entities. Recently, the IRS provided guidance to auditors on how to deal with those hiding income offshore in undisclosed accounts. The IRS draws a clear line between taxpayers with offshore accounts who voluntarily come forward and those who fail to come forward.

Taxpayers also evade taxes by using offshore debit cards, credit cards, wire transfers, foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities or life insurance plans. The IRS has also identified abusive offshore schemes including those that involve use of electronic funds transfer and payment systems, offshore business merchant accounts and private banking relationships.

Filing False or Misleading Forms

The IRS is seeing scam artists file false or misleading returns to claim refunds that they are not entitled to. Frivolous information returns, such as Form 1099-Original Issue Discount (OID), claiming false withholding credits are used to legitimize erroneous refund claims. The new scam has evolved from an earlier phony argument that a “strawman” bank account has been created for each citizen. Under this scheme, taxpayers fabricate an information return, arguing they used their “strawman” account to pay for goods and services and falsely claim the corresponding amount as withholding as a way to seek a tax refund.

Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions

The IRS continues to observe the misuse of tax-exempt organizations. Abuse includes arrangements to improperly shield income or assets from taxation and attempts by donors to maintain control over donated assets or income from donated property. The IRS also continues to investigate various schemes involving the donation of non-cash assets, including easements on property, closely held corporate stock and real property. Often, the donations are highly overvalued or the organization receiving the donation promises that the donor can purchase the items back at a later date at a price the donor sets. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 imposed increased penalties for inaccurate appraisals and new definitions of qualified appraisals and qualified appraisers for taxpayers claiming charitable contributions.

Return Preparer Fraud

Dishonest return preparers can cause many headaches for taxpayers who fall victim to their ploys. Such preparers derive financial gain by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds and charging inflated fees for return preparation services. They attract new clients by promising large refunds. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No matter who prepares the return, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for its accuracy. Since 2002, the courts have issued injunctions ordering dozens of individuals to cease preparing returns, and the Department of Justice has filed complaints against dozens of others, which are pending in court.

Frivolous Arguments

Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage people to make unreasonable and unfounded claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. The IRS has a list of frivolous legal positions that taxpayers should stay away from. Taxpayers who file a tax return or make a submission based on one of the positions on the list are subject to a $5,000 penalty. More information is available on IRS.gov.

False Claims for Refund and Requests for Abatement

This scam involves a request for abatement of previously assessed tax using Form 843 Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. Many individuals who try this have not previously filed tax returns. The tax they are trying to have abated has been assessed by the IRS through the Substitute for Return Program. The filer uses Form 843 to list reasons for the request. Often, one of the reasons given is “Failed to properly compute and/or calculate Section 83-Property Transferred in Connection with Performance of Service.”

Disguised Corporate Ownership

Some taxpayers form corporations and other entities in certain states for the primary purpose of disguising the ownership of a business or financial activity. Such entities can be used to facilitate underreporting of income, fictitious deductions, non-filing of tax returns, participating in listed transactions, money laundering, financial crimes, and even terrorist financing. The IRS is working with state authorities to identify these entities and to bring the owners of these entities into compliance.

Zero Wages

Filing a phony wage- or income-related information return to replace a legitimate information return has been used as an illegal method to lower the amount of taxes owed. Typically, a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 is used as a way to improperly reduce taxable income to zero. The taxpayer also may submit a statement rebutting wages and taxes reported by a payer to the IRS. Sometimes fraudsters even include an explanation on their Form 4852 that cites statutory language on the definition of wages or may include some reference to a paying company that refuses to issue a corrected Form W-2 for fear of IRS retaliation. Taxpayers should resist any temptation to participate in any of the variations of this scheme.

Misuse of Trusts

For years, unscrupulous promoters have urged taxpayers to transfer assets into trusts. While there are many legitimate, valid uses of trusts in tax and estate planning, some promoted transactions promise reduction of income subject to tax, deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the promised tax benefits and are being used primarily as a means to avoid income tax liability and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

The IRS has recently seen an increase in the improper use of private annuity trusts and foreign trusts to divert income and deduct personal expenses. As with other arrangements, taxpayers should seek the advice of a trusted professional before entering into a trust arrangement.

Fuel Tax Credit Scams

The IRS is receiving claims for the fuel tax credit that are unreasonable. Some taxpayers, such as farmers who use fuel for off-highway business purposes, may be eligible for the fuel tax credit. But some individuals are claiming the tax credit for nontaxable uses of fuel when their occupation or income level makes the claim unreasonable. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is considered a frivolous tax claim, potentially subjecting those who improperly claim the credit to a $5,000 penalty.

Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, and abusive tax shelters.  He writes about 412(i), 419, and captive insurance plans. He speaks at more than ten conventions annually, writes for over fifty publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows including NBC, National Pubic Radio’s All Things Considered, and others. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as AICPA best-selling books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots. He does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit www.taxaudit419.com and www.taxlibrary.us


The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

Get a $200,000 IRS Fine and Have Your Client Sue You

By Lance Wallach

Over the past decade, business owners have been overwhelmed by a plethora of arrangements designed to reduce the cost of providing employee benefits and taxes while simultaneously increasing their own retirement savings. The solutions ranged from traditional pension and profit sharing plans to more advanced strategies.

Some strategies, such as IRS Section 419 and 412(i) plans, used life insurance as vehicles to bring about benefits. Unfortunately, almost all the plans were noncompliant, even though insurance companies vetted them and encouraged their agents to sell them. This fostered an environment that led to numerous IRS crackdowns, disallowing tax deductions, and spurned clients to sue their insurance agents and others.

The result has been thousands of audits and an IRS task force seeking out tax-shelter promotions. In addition, the IRS has been auditing most 412(i) defined benefit retirement plans and all 419 welfare benefit plans — plans offered by many insurance agents. For unknowing clients, the tax consequences are enormous. Yet for their professional insurance advisors, the liability may be equally extreme. If an insurance professional sells one of these plans, and the client takes a tax deduction on that plan the IRS now considers as abusive, to be a listed transaction or substantially similar to such a transaction, the insurance agent may be called a “material advisor.” The fine for being found a material advisor is $200,000 if incorporated, or $100,000 if unincorporated.

Most insurance agents think that they can avoid the fine by filing Form 8918 with the IRS and informing on their clients. But, all of the Form 8918s we have seen have been filled out improperly. In our discussions with the IRS officials who wrote the regulations, the impression that we received was that if the form is filled out improperly, you are lying to the government. That is almost as bad as not filing the form. This has also been a problem with all the forms that we have reviewed for accountants and insurance agents. We have reviewed hundreds of forms, and not a single one has been filled out properly. One of the reasons for this may be that the promoter of the abusive plan sends the form with instructions to the accountant and insurance agent. These instructions tend to protect the promoter, but do not necessarily protect the insurance agent or accountant. So please be careful with this entire situation. We have received hundreds of phone calls from accountants and insurance professionals recently who are in this predicament. But, it is very difficult to help them after the fact.

Recently, there has been an explosion in the marketing of a financial product called “captive insurance.” These so-called “captives” are typically small insurance companies designed to insure the risks of an individual business under IRS Code Section 831(b). When properly designed, a business can make tax-deductible premium payments to a related party insurance company. Depending on circumstances, underwriting profits, if any, can be paid out to the owners as dividends, and profits from liquidation of the company may be taxed as capital gains.

While captives can be a great cost-saving tool, they also are expensive to build and manage. Also, captives are allowed to garner tax benefits because they operate as real insurance companies. Advisors and business owners who misuse captives or market them as estate planning tools, asset protection vehicles, for tax deferral purposes or to obtain other benefits not related to the true business purpose of an insurance company face grave regulatory and tax consequences.

A recent concern is the integration of small captives with life insurance policies. Small captives, under Section 831(b), have no statutory authority to deduct life premiums. Also, if a small captive uses life insurance as an investment, the cash value of the life policy can be taxable at corporate rates, and then will be taxable again when distributed. The consequence of this double taxation is to devastate the effectiveness of the life insurance, and it extends serious liability to any accountant who recommends the plan or even signs the tax return of the business that pays premiums to the captive.

The IRS is aware that several large insurance companies are promoting their life insurance policies as investments with small captives. The outcome looks eerily like that of the 419 and 412(i) plans mentioned above.

Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is. There are safe and conservative ways to use captive insurance structures to lower costs and obtain benefits for businesses. And, some types of captive insurance products do have statutory protection for deducting life insurance premiums (although not 831(b) captives). Learning what works and is safe is the first step an accountant should take in helping his or her clients use these powerful, but highly technical insurance tools.

*Source: This article was first published in the January 2009 issue of California Broker magazine.

Lance Wallach, a member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals and an AICPA course developer, is a frequent and popular speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, reducing health insurance costs and tax-oriented strategies at accounting and financial planning conventions. He does frequent expert witness work and assists insurance professionals, accountants and others in reviewing 8918 forms so they can avoid the IRS $200,000 penalty that applies to material advisors.

Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, and abusive tax shelters.  He writes about 412(i), 419, and captive insurance plans. He speaks at more than ten conventions annually, writes for over fifty publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows including NBC, National Pubic Radio’s All Things Considered, and others. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as AICPA best-selling books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots. He does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit www.taxaudit419.com and www.taxlibrary.us

The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

IRS Attacks Business Owners in 419, 412, Section 79 and Captive Insurance Plans Under Section 6707A

Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, Inc.

Winter 2010

By Lance Wallach

Taxpayers who previously adopted 419, 412i, captive

insurance or Section 79 plans are in big trouble.

In recent years, the IRS has identified many of these arrangements as abusive devices to funnel tax deductible dollars to shareholders and classified these arrangements as listed transactions.” These plans were sold by insurance agents, financial planners, accountants and attorneys seeking large life insurance commissions. In general, taxpayers who engage in a “listed transaction” must report such transaction to the IRS on Form 8886 every year that they “participate” in the transaction, and you do not necessarily have to make a contribution or claim a tax deduction to participate. Section 6707A of the Code imposes severe penalties for failure to file Form 8886 with respect to a listed transaction. But you are also in trouble if you file incorrectly. I have received numerous phone calls from business owners who filed and still got fined. Not only do you have to file Form 8886, but it also has to be prepared correctly. I only know of two people in the U.S. who have filed these forms properly for clients. They tell me that was after hundreds of hours of research and over 50 phones calls to various IRS personnel. The filing instructions for Form 8886 presume a timely filling. Most people file late and follow the directions for currently preparing the forms. Then the IRS fines the business owner. The tax court does not have jurisdiction to abate or lower such penalties imposed by the IRS.

“Many taxpayers who are no longer taking current tax deductions for these plans continue to enjoy the benefit of previous tax deductions by continuing the deferral of income from contributions and deductions taken in prior years.”

Many business owners adopted 412i, 419, captive insurance and Section 79 plans based upon representations provided by insurance professionals that the plans were legitimate plans and were not informed that they were engaging in a listed transaction. Upon audit, these taxpayers were shocked when the IRS asserted penalties under Section 6707A of the Code in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Numerous complaints from these taxpayers caused Congress to impose a moratorium on assessment of Section 6707A penalties.

The moratorium on IRS fines expired on June 1, 2010. The IRS immediately started sending out notices proposing the imposition of Section 6707A penalties along with requests for lengthy extensions of the Statute of Limitations for the purpose of assessing tax. Many of these taxpayers stopped taking deductions for contributions to these plans years ago, and are confused and upset by the IRS’s inquiry, especially when the taxpayer had previously reached a monetary settlement with the IRS regarding its deductions. Logic and common sense dictate that a penalty should not apply if the taxpayer no longer benefits from the arrangement. Treas. Reg. Sec. 1.6011-4(c)(3)(i) provides that a taxpayer has participated in a listed transaction if the taxpayer’s tax return reflects tax consequences or a tax strategy described in the published guidance identifying the transaction as a listed transaction or a transaction that is the same or substantially similar to a listed transaction.

Clearly, the primary benefit in the participation of these plans is the large tax deduction generated by such participation. Many taxpayers who are no longer taking current tax deductions for these plans continue to enjoy the benefit of previous tax deductions by continuing the deferral of income from contributions and deductions taken in prior years. While the regulations do not expand on what constitutes “reflecting the tax consequences of the strategy,” it could be argued that continued benefit from a tax deferral for a previous tax deduction is within the contemplation of a “tax consequence” of the plan strategy. Also, many taxpayers who no longer make contributions or claim tax deductions continue to pay administrative fees. Sometimes, money is taken from the plan to pay premiums to keep life insurance policies in force. In these ways, it could be argued that these taxpayers are still “contributing,” and thus still must file Form 8886.

It is clear that the extent to which a taxpayer benefits from the transaction depends on the purpose of a particular transaction as described in the published guidance that caused such transaction to be a listed transaction. Revenue Ruling 2004-20, which classifies 419(e) transactions, appears to be concerned with the employer’s contribution/deduction amount rather than the continued deferral of the income in previous years. Another important issue is that the IRS has called CPAs material advisors if they signed tax returns containing the plan, and got paid a certain amount of money for tax advice on the plan. The fine is $100,000 for the CPA, or $200,000 if the CPA is incorporated. To avoid the fine, the CPA has to properly file Form 8918.

Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, Wallach is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, and abusive tax shelters. He is also a featured writer and has been interviewed on television and financial talk shows including NBC, National Pubic Radio’s All Things Considered and others. Lance authored Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as AICPA best-selling books including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots.

Contact him at:

516.938.5007,

wallachinc@gmail.com, or

www.taxadvisorexperts.org, or

www.taxlibrary.us.

The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.