William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

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

TaxFacts Intelligence Weekly March 21, 2019

Posted by William Byrnes on March 21, 2019

William H. Byrnes, J.D., LL.M. and Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

IRS Ruling Provides New Impetus for Lump-Sum Pension Buyouts for Retirees

The IRS has released a ruling that impacts whether pension plan sponsors are permitted to provide lump-sum distributions to plan participants who are already receiving plan benefits via regular annuity payments. The issue was whether, under the IRS required minimum distribution (RMD) rules, a lump-sum payment would constitute an impermissible increase in the payment amounts these participants were receiving. In 2015, the IRS reversed its previous stance allowing these lump-sum payments to participants in pay status and stated its intent to amend the RMD rules to prohibit these payment options. Now, the IRS has once again changed course and announced that, for the time being anyway, it is no longer planning to amend the RMD rules to prohibit lump-sum payments to pension plan participants already receiving annuity payments under the plan. For more information on lump sum pension buyout offers, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Tax Court Case Could Eliminate Valuable Split-Dollar Insurance Estate Planning Strategy

The Tax Court is set to hear a case that has had planners who help very wealthy clients use split-dollar strategies to minimize transfer taxes waiting for results since 2014. This issue in this case involves the value of several life insurance policies. Here, a parent purchased life insurance on her sons’ lives–the policies were technically purchased through revocable “dynasty” trusts–for $29.9 million (premium costs). When she died, her reimbursement rights under these “split-dollar” arrangements were valued at only $7.5 million, because the policies would not pay out until the sons died at some future date (essentially, the strategy is valuable because the difference between the two values is a tax-free gift). The IRS has argued that a fair market valuation approach must be used in split-dollar cases, which would assign the much higher premium cost to the value of the policies using the logic typically applied to buy-sell arrangements in family businesses. Initially, the Tax Court indicated that the economic benefit theory of split-dollar could be applied, a result that would favor the estate. Since then, the court has noted that the estate may have to prove it can satisfy an exception under IRC Section 2703 to avoid full taxation of the $29.9 million in premiums paid. A similar case, Cahill v. Comm., was settled out of court in 2018. For more information on split-dollar plans, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Sixth Circuit Allows Employer to Terminate Retiree Health Benefits Despite Collective Bargaining Agreements

The Sixth Circuit recently overturned a district court ruling, finding instead that an employer was permitted to terminate certain retiree health benefits despite the presence of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs). The plaintiffs in this case failed to show that the CBAs’ general durational clauses did not apply to healthcare benefits covered under the agreements. In the Sixth Circuit, a CBA’s general durational clause applies to every provision, unless the contract clearly states that it does not. Despite language pertaining to health benefits in the CBAs, that language did not specifically state the duration of the health benefits, so that the general durational clauses applied and the employer was permitted to modify or terminate coverage when the relevant CBAs expired. For more information on retiree-only health benefits provided in the employment context, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More


2019’s Tax Facts Offers a Complete Web, App-Based, and Print Experience

Reducing complicated tax questions to understandable answers that can be immediately put into real-life practice, Tax Facts works when and where you need it….on your desktop, at home on your laptop, and on the go through your tablet or smartphone.  Questions? Contact customer service: TaxFactsHelp@alm.com800-543-0874


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