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William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Archive for March, 2012

GAO Report Touts Annuities in Uncertain Retirement Environment

Posted by William Byrnes on March 26, 2012


Want some free marketing material for your annuities business? Look no further than the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which recently released a report touting annuities for their ability to provide retirement income sufficiency in an increasingly uncertain environment.

The GAO recommends that retirees delay their receipt of Social Security Benefits and either draw down savings and purchase an annuity or select annuity options from their defined benefit (DB) plan instead of electing to receive their benefits in a lump sum.

According to the GAO, the shift from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution (DC) plans like 401(k)s necessitates a heightened focus on annuities and other options for guaranteeing income during retirement . And even if workers are saving more for retirement through their DC plans, they are still at greater risk than employees with DB pensions.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of annuities in Advisor’s Journal, see How Much to Allocate to Annuities: A Critical Analysis (CC 11-109) & Drama Over the “Drawbacks” of Annuities (CC 11-62).

For in-depth analysis of the taxation of annuities, see Advisor’s Main Library: A—Amounts Received As An Annuity & B—Amounts NOT Received As Annuities.

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Debt Deal Talks Down to the Wire

Posted by William Byrnes on March 23, 2012


Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insists that the administration needs to reach a debt limit deal by the end of this week to give Congress enough time to enact the deal into law. Without a deal, the federal government will be unable to pay its debts as of August 2 of this year.

“Default is not an option,” he said on Tuesday, July 12, at the Treasury’s Women in Finance Symposium. “Failure is not an option, and they understand that—Speaker [John] Boehner and Minority Leader [Mitch] McConnell—absolutely understand we need to move in advance of the deadline on Aug. 2nd.”

Despite Geithner’s confidence that they will reach a deal, President Obama and Congressional leaders are also working on options for keeping the government’s bills paid if a deal can’t be reached by the Treasury’s August 2 debt limit deadline. “If we are unable to come together, we think it’s extremely important that the country reassure the markets that default is not an option and reassure Social Security recipients and families of military veterans that default is not an option,” said Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.), who took part in the talks.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage in  Advisor’s Journal, see Democrats Call Debt Limit Unconstitutional (CC 11-134), Debt Limit Standoff Boils Over (CC 11-115) and Storm Clouds over U.S. Debt (CC 11-85).

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States Competing for Captives Insurance Business

Posted by William Byrnes on March 19, 2012


Looking to recapture its competitiveness in the domestic captive insurance business, Nevada passed Assembly Bill 74 (AB 74), which amends the state’s captive insurance law. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval recently praised the amendment, saying it that “will make Nevada a more attractive place to do business for captive insurers.”

Generally, a captive insurance company forms as a subsidiary of a company to cover the risks of the parent company and its other subsidiaries. A captive insurance company typically does not insure risks of unrelated third parties—although some will insure their customers’ risks. Other captive insurers assume the risks of members of a trade association or group.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of the application of the Health Care law to captive provided health insurance, see Tax Facts, see 252. What nondiscrimination requirements apply to employer provided health benefits?.

Questions about Captives? Contact our Panel of Experts. Benjamin Terner is our “Captive Expert” and can answer your questions relating to domestic and offshore arrangements

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IRS Quashes Conversion Treatment for Basket Option Contracts

Posted by William Byrnes on March 16, 2012


Long-term gains yield more favorable tax costs than short-term gains. Short-term gains carry an additional 20% tax cost over long-term gains, encouraging the manufacturing of transactions designed to convert short-term to long-term gains. Unfortunately, these transactions attract undue attention from the IRS and are often disregarded by the Service. The IRS recently considered the tax treatment of one of these gain-recharacterization schemes, a basket option contract, in a generic legal advice memorandum (AM 2010-005).

The IRS altered its categorization of  the contract, viewing it as if the investor purchased the securities in a margin account, paying cash equal to 10% of the value of the securities and borrowing 90% of the value from the investment bank. Just as was the case with the “option,” the investor had almost total control over investment of the securities and would reap all appreciation and income from the securities, less interest and brokerage fees.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For in-depth analysis of options, see Advisor’s Main Library: G—Options and Futures.

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IRS Global Settlement for Millennium 419

Posted by William Byrnes on March 6, 2012


A massive increase of lawsuits and IRS investigations have surrounded the Millennium Multiple Employer Welfare Benefit Plan for years, with plan participants claiming it was nothing but a fraudulent device with sole purpose of generating millions in commissions for its agent promoters. There are accusations of taking a total of $500 million from 500 clients by inducing them to participate in a plan that offered no tax or other benefits to its participants.

Several lawsuits are still pending against the Millennium Plan, but at least one aspect of the alleged scam plan has been resolved. The IRS announced on July 5 that it reached an agreement with the Millennium Multiple Employer Welfare Benefit Plan (“Millennium Plan”). After numerous fraud allegations and the IRS abusive tax shelter investigation, the Millennium Plan filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Read this complete analysis of the impact at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of welfare benefits plans in Advisor’s Journal, see Tax Courts Holds Employee Taxable for Value of Life Insurance Owned by Welfare-Benefit & Deductions for Life Insurance Premium Payments to Welfare Benefit Plan Denied (CC 10-29).

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