No Shelter Here: Beware of These Insurance Plans | Remodeling

No Shelter Here: Beware of These Insurance Plans

Backlash on too-good-to-be-true insurance plan

During the past few years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has fined many business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars for participating in several particular types of insurance plans.

The 412(i), 419, captive insurance, and section 79 plans were marketed as a way for small-business owners to set up retirement, welfare benefit plans, or other tax-deductible programs while leveraging huge tax savings, but the IRS put most of them on a list of abusive tax shelters, listed transactions, or similar transactions, etc., and has more recently focused audits on them. Many accountants are unaware of the issues surrounding these plans, and many big-name insurance companies are still encouraging participation in them.

Seems Attractive

The plans are costly up-front, but your money builds over time, and there’s a large payout if the money is removed before death. While many business owners have retirement plans, they also must care for their employees. With one of these plans, business owners are not required to give their workers anything.

Gotcha

Although small business has taken a recessionary hit and owners may not be spending big sums on insurance now, an IRS task force is auditing people who bought these as early as 2004. There is no statute of limitations.

The IRS also requires participants to file Form 8886 informing the IRS of participation in this “abusive transaction.” Failure to file or to file incorrectly will cost the business owner interest and penalties. Plus, you’ll pay back whatever you claimed for a deduction, and there are additional fines — possibly 70% of the tax benefit you claim in a year. And, if your accountant does not confidentially inform on you, he or she will get fined $100,000 by the IRS. Further, the IRS can freeze assets if you don’t pay and can fine you on a corporate and a personal level despite the type of business entity you have.

Legal Wrangling

Currently, small businesses facing audits and potentially huge tax penalties over these plans are filing lawsuits against those who marketed, designed, and sold the plans. Find out promptly if you have one of these plans and seek advice from a knowledgeable accountant to help you properly file Form 8886.

—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.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as specific legal or financial advice.

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Did you Know? Abusive Tax Shelters Again on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2015 Filing Season

“The IRS is committed to stopping complex tax avoidance schemes and the people who create and sell them,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and we are warning everyone to watch out for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true.”
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.”

Read the Rest HERE

Section 79 Scams and Captive Insurance History

When trying to understand how a product becomes a target of government scrutiny it helps to know its history. In the case of plans that fall under Internal Revenue Code Section 79, that history is complex.

 

Insurance companies, agents, financial planners, and others have pushed abusive 419 and 412i plans for 
years. They claimed business owners could obtain large tax deductions. Insurance companies, agents and others earned very large life insurance commissions in the process. Eventually, the IRS cracked down on the unsuspecting business owners. Not only did they lose the tax deductions, but they were also fined, in addition to being charged penalties and interest. A skilled CPA with extensive IRS experience could usually eliminate the penalties and reduce the fines. Most accountants, tax attorneys and others have been unsuccessful in accomplishing this.

After the business owner was assessed the fines and lost his tax deduction, he had another huge, unforeseen problem. The IRS then came back and fined him a huge amount of money for not telling on himself under IRC 6707A. If you participate in a listed or reportable transaction, you must alert the IRS or face a large fine. In essence, you must alert the IRS if you were in a transaction that has the possibility of tax avoidance or evasion. Not only must you file Form 8886 telling on yourself, but the form needs to be filed properly, and done every year that you are in the plan in any way at all, even if you are no longer making contributions. 

According to IRC 6707A Expert Lance Wallach, “I have received hundreds of phone calls from business 
owners who filed Form 8886, usually with the help of their accountants or the plan promoter. They got the fine for either improperly filing, or for making mistakes on the form.”
“The IRS directions about preparing the form are vague, especially if the form is filed late. They presume a timely filing. In addition, many states also require forms to be filed. For example, if you work in New York State and manage to properly fill out the Federal form, but do not file the State form, you may still get fined,” says Wallach, adding that he only knows of two people that know how to properly prepare and file the forms, especially forms being filed late. As an expert witness in such cases, Lance Wallach’s side has never lost.

The result of the all of the above was many lawsuits against insurance companies, including Hartford, Pacific Life, Indianapolis Life, AIG, and Penn Mutual, to name just a few. Agents, accountants, and attorneys were also successfully sued.

Lately, insurance companies, agents, accountants, and others have been selling captive insurance and 
Section 79 scams. The motivations are exactly the same. They push large tax deductions for business 
owners. There are also huge commissions for salespeople, though this is usually mentioned only in passing, if at all.

Anyone participating in a listed or reportable transaction must properly file Form 8886 or face large IRS fines. A listed transaction is any transaction specifically identified as such by published IRS guidance, or one substantially similar to that transaction.

A reportable transaction is any transaction that has the potential for tax avoidance or evasion. In my experience, the desire to avoid taxes is usually the principal and sometimes the only reason why people participate in Section 79, captive insurance, or 419 plans. That is why I generally take the position that virtually everyone participating in one of these arrangements should PROPERLY file Form 8886, if only protectively as a precaution.

If you do not properly file Form 8886, there is no Statute of Limitations. That means the IRS can come back and fine you many years later. Anyone that wants to risk an IRS audit by utilizing a captive insurance or Section 79 scam should, at the very least, engage a competent professional to file 8886 forms. By filing protectively and properly, the Statute of Limitations starts running and you avoid the very large IRS penalties under 6707A. But as I have previously stated, I only know two people who I would trust to undertake the preparation of the forms, especially if the forms are not being filed timely.

Never utilize directions from a plan promoter or salesman as to how to fill out 8886 forms. They would only be attempting to protect themselves, and doing so usually results in you being fined. Lance Wallach knows of many examples of this happening, including a plan promoter who assisted almost 200 business owners in preparing and filing 8886 forms. All of them got fined for improper preparation of the forms.

The two people that have been successful in filing 8886 forms for business owners have had numerous 
conversations with IRS personnel. They get the impression that it is almost impossible for an accountant, tax attorney, or anyone else to properly prepare and file the forms. One of them, who spent 35 plus years with the IRS, has also been successful in fighting the IRS on penalties and fines assessed against business owners who participate in these plans, though the IRS publicly claims that you cannot appeal the fine under 6707A.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lance Wallach
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 more than 50 publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows.

Copyright Lance Wallach, CLU, CHFC
More information about 

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Why You Should Stay Away From Section 79 Life Insurance Plans

Why You Should Stay Away from Section 79 Life Insurance Plans

 

I’ve had several calls lately from doctors who are being pitched Section 79 plans and are wondering if these plans are any good. The doctors are being told that Section 79 plans are the best wealth-building tool they can use to reduce their income taxes and create a tax-free retirement income.

 

Unfortunately for these unsuspecting doctors, what they don’t know is that not only are Section 79 plans not the best wealth-building tool they can use, they are not even a good wealth-building tool. 

I have problems with Section 79 plans for several reasons: 

1. You have to lie to employees to implement them. Most try to exclude workers.

2. The life illustrations given by ignorant or crooked insurance agents are not realistic. Most use today’s historically low lending rates with 2 percent to 3 percent loan spreads on variable loans on EIUL policies (ones that do not have a fixed lending rate). 

3. You have to be a C-corporation to use them. Many agents don’t inform their clients of this.

4. The life policies sold in these plans are so bad that the companies don’t want them sold unless they are in Section 79 plans. (The policies are designed to have poor performance so the deduction is increased.) This is similar to the springing cash value problems with the 412i and 419 plans that got people audited and sued.

5. Another very good reason not to use these plans is because there are better alternatives. 

6. Another reason not to use a Section 79 plan is because when you run the real numbers, the client would be better off not funding the plan, taking his/her money home after taxes, and funding a good no load EIUL policy. 

7. The IRS audits many of them and unless you properly file under IRS 6707A the fines are very large.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lance Wallach
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 more than 50 publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows including NBC, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and others.

Copyright Lance Wallach, CLU, CHFC
More information about 

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.