Wealth & Risk Management Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Business and Economy’

STOLI Scheme Lands Insurance Agent in Jail

Posted by William Byrnes on August 29, 2011


A California insurance agent will spend years behind bars for his part in a stranger originated life insurance (“STOLI”) scheme that swindled six victims out of almost $800,000. In addition to being sentenced to 3 years 8 months in jail, Victor L. Weber, 55, was also ordered to pay restitution to his victims.

In the typical STOLI arrangement, investors or promoters approach seniors to allow investors to purchase life insurance on the seniors’ lives. Insureds are typically enticed to sign on the dotted line by promises of “free life insurance,” cash payments, vacations or other perks. Insureds are usually unable to purchase needed life insurance because their life insurance capacity is occupied  by the investor owned policy.

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 stranger-originated life insurance in Advisor’s Journal, see New York Court of Appeals Upholds STOLI Arrangement (CC 10-106) & Recent STOLI Case Is a Big Win for Insurers (CC 10-59).

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Is the Life Insurance Gender Gap Really Closing?

Posted by William Byrnes on August 3, 2011


Historically, the amount of life insurance purchased by men dwarfed that of women. Although the gender gap is closing, there’s still a discrepancy between the amount of life insurance coverage owned by men and women. A recently released study by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) revealed that, although men and women own life insurance in nearly equal numbers, and women are working now more than ever, the amount of coverage owned by women is still fewer than men.

Historically, men have been the main source of household incomes; but recent research has revealed that about 30 percent of women earn more money than their husbands. Despite this change, LIMRA’s studies found that women’s life insurance ownership has not increased proportionately. 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 life insurance in qualified plans, see Advisor’s Main Library: A – Life Insurance in Qualified Plans & 412(i) Plans.

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Advisors’ Stairsteps of Influence

Posted by William Byrnes on July 12, 2011


Advisors understand that referrals from existing clients are their best source for new business, but what else is working, and how effective are other methods being used by advisors to generate new business? A recently released survey provides us with a laundry list of approaches used by advisors to solicit new clients and gauges the productiveness of their marketing efforts.  The survey, which polled 262 financial advisors in November and December of 2010, found that client referrals are still the top way advisors generated new business. Behind client referrals, professional referrals were the second biggest producer.  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).

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House Passes Bill Modernizing Mutual Fund Taxation

Posted by William Byrnes on January 25, 2011


Although overshadowed by the fight over the Obama tax agreement, mutual fund legislation passed the House on December 15.  The Registered investment Company Modernization Act of 2010 (RICM Act), H.R. 4337, was originally passed by the House on September 28, but the Senate amended the bill, forcing a second vote in the House.  The President signed it into law December 22 – Public Law 111-325.

Tax Code provisions governing mutual funds have not had a substantial update since 1986, with some components of the Code relating to mutual funds sitting untouched for sixty or more years. The tax and regulatory landscape has changed significantly in the intervening years, which has left the tax rules for mutual funds sorely in need of updating.

The RICM Act brings the Tax Code’s treatment of mutual funds and other registered investment companies (RICs) up to date by introducing the following provisions to the Tax Code, among others: Read this complete article 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 mutual fund investment in Adviso’rs Journal, see Can Term Life Coupled with a Mutual Fund Investment Replace a Variable Universal Life Policy? (CC 10-77).

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Clients may be subject to new reporting to IRS (beware of mis-matching leading to audits)

Posted by William Byrnes on October 16, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers?  Provides critical information in regards to who will be the subjects of new reports going to the IRS beginning in January.  Chances are, a significant portion of clients accept credit and debit cards in transactional exchanges.  The new law applies, and has ramifications, directly related to these merchants and services providers.

The same legislation that brought us the first time homebuyer’s credit, the “Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008”, is back again, this time in the form of additional reporting for those who accept credit or debit cards in consideration for goods or services. [1] The act requires return reporting to the Internal Revenue Service, “relating to payments made in settlement of payment card and third party network transactions.”  [2]

The requirements establish that “banks or other organizations that have contractual obligation to make payment to participating payees in settlement of payment card transactions” [3], are required to return to the Service, “(1) the name, address, and [Taxpayer Identification Number] of each participating payee to whom one or more payments in settlement of reportable payment transactions are made, and (2) the gross amount of the reportable payment transactions with respect to each such participating payee.” [4]

Read all about the new requirements that become effective for information returns for reportable payment transactions for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2010 at Special Alert

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Foreign Insurance Company Taxation – Less Complicated than It Sounds

Posted by William Byrnes on October 11, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Provides insight into relevant taxation issues regarding the ownership of a foreign insurance company, premium payments made to a foreign insurance company, and foreign insurance company income taxation. Discusses information wealth managers may find relevant in regards to advanced family and business estate plans.

What are the U.S. tax implications, generally, for a United States Corporation that owns a foreign insurance company?

To begin, a well known rule is that premiums paid to a foreign insurance company are subject to a federal income premium tax. The tax is due even though the U.S. parent may own the foreign insurance company, either in part or in full.  The tax is remitted by the premium payor who “must file Form 720 to pay the tax at the time of the premium payment.”[1]

For casualty insurance policies the tax is 4% of the total premium payment to a foreign insurer and for life insurance and annuity contracts the tax is 1% of the premium paid.[2] The tax only applies to premium payments to a foreign insurer.

If a foreign company carrying on an insurance business within the United States qualifies as a life or casualty insurer under the Code, “if it were [otherwise] a domestic corporation,” then the company is “taxable under such part on its income effectively connected with its conduct of any trade or business within the United States.” [3]

To determine what income then is effectively connected with a trade or business within the United States, one must know what a trade or business within the United States means.  “Neither the Code nor the regulations fully define the term ‘trade or business within the United States.’ ” [4] Most “cases hold that profit oriented activities in the United States, whether carried on by the taxpayer directly or through agents, are a trade or business if they are regular, substantial, and continuous.” [5] Additionally, an insurance company “makes contracts over a period of years”, which leads one to believe the issuance of insurance contracts on persons or activities in the United States is continuous. [6]

Read on about Foreign Insurance Company Taxation

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Subchapter L: Life Insurance Companies

Posted by William Byrnes on October 9, 2010


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? Presents an introduction into the taxation of U.S. life insurance companies.  Provides insight for wealth managers considering advanced planning techniques involving the use of life insurance companies.

Congress has determined, generally, that insurance companies by issuing insurance contracts are serving the public good.  Moreover, Congress has determined that the tax accounting applicable to corporations does not adequately align to the operations of the insurance industry.  Thus, to distinguish insurance companies, Congress created a special chapter of the Internal Revenue Code (subchapter “L”) applicable only for them.  Subchapter L is divided into Section 801 to 848 of which 801 to 818 address the taxation of lile insurance companies.

By example, because of the nature of the life insurance business, in that liabilities carry long into the future, Congress has afforded special deductions to this class.  To avoid potential reserve deficiencies by recognizing income (and therefore incurring a present tax liability) when premiums are collected, Congress essentially allows underwriting gains to occur once the insurance liability obligations have expired.

Let’s take a look at the Code specifically to see how these mechanics actually work.  First and foremost, pursuant to IRC Sec. 801 a life insurance company is taxed at the same rates as other corporations.  These rates can be found in IRC § 11.

A life insurance company means under IRC § 816(a), “ an insurance company which is engaged in the business of issuing life insurance and annuity contracts”, generally, as well as accident or health contracts, so long as, the company’s “life insurance reserves, plus unearned premiums” on “noncancellable” policies, “comprise more than 50 percent of its total reserves.”

Read on about Subchapter L: Life Insurance Companies

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Life Insurance Ownership Hits Fifty-Year Low

Posted by William Byrnes on September 27, 2010


Life insurance ownership has hit a fifty-year low, according to the August-released Trends in Life Insurance Ownership, a LIMRA study administered once every six years.  But do the economic clouds have a silver—or better yet, gold—lining?

Today’s analysis by our Experts Robert Bloink and William Byrnes is located at AdvisorFX Journal Life Insurance Ownership Hits Fifty-Year Low

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