Wealth & Risk Management Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Policy’

New York Holds Carrier Can’t Deny Term Conversion for Settlement

Posted by William Byrnes on July 26, 2011


The New York Department of Insurance, Office of General Counsel, stated on February 25, 2011 that insurance carriers cannot refuse to convert a term policy to a permanent policy on the ground that the policy will be sold on the secondary market. The debated issue was whether the converted policy is a “new” policy that must satisfy the insurable interest requirement. Nevertheless, this ruling will not affect all term policies, since many term life insurance policies are not convertible. 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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The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report

Posted by William Byrnes on April 5, 2011


Why is this Topic Important to Wealth Managers? This topic discusses the evaluation report of the financial crisis issued by a Congressionally appointed body. The report presents discussion of events and causes leading up to the ordeal, as well as indications and factors which presented its forthcoming. The discussion is aimed to allow wealth managers to intelligently discuss some causes of the financial crisis with clients and colleagues.

There was a new report issued earlier this year by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was created to “examine the causes of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” [1] In this report, the Commission presents to the President, the Congress, and the general public the results of its examination and its conclusions as to the causes of the crisis.

The Commission was established as part of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act passed by Congress and signed by the President in May 2009. [2] The independent panel was selected by Congress and composed of private citizens with experience in areas such as housing, economics, insurance, market regulation, banking, and consumer protection.

The report is intended to provide a historical accounting of what brought our financial system and economy to a precipice and to help policy makers and the public better understand how this calamity came to be.

Below are some of the findings issued in the report:  Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

 

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Tax Court Calculates FMV of Policies Distributed from Terminated 419 Plan

Posted by William Byrnes on March 31, 2011


The Tax Court recently calculated the fair market value (“FMV”) of life insurance policies distributed by a terminated 419 welfare benefit plan. The FMV of the policies—which must be included in the taxpayers’ income—was determined by the court based on: (1) surrender charges, (2) conditions imposed on the taxpayers by the insurance company, and (3) “paid-up insurance coverage remaining on the policies as of the date of distribution.”  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 policy valuation in Advisor’s Journal, see Tax Courts Holds Employee Taxable for Value of Life Insurance Owned by Welfare-Benefit Plan (CC 11-14).

For in-depth analysis of welfare benefits plans, see Advisor’s Main Library: B—Welfare Benefit Funds.

 

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Group-Term Life Policy Tax Consequences

Posted by William Byrnes on February 25, 2011


The Internal Revenue Code provides an exclusion from income for the first $50,000 of group-term life insurance coverage provided under a policy carried directly or indirectly by an employer. [1] Thus, there are no tax consequences to the individual if the total amount of such policies does not exceed $50,000.  However, the imputed cost of coverage in excess of $50,000 must be included in income to the individual, using the IRS Premium Table[2] and are subject to social security and Medicare taxes.

A taxable fringe benefit arises if coverage exceeds $50,000 and the policy is considered carried directly or indirectly by the employer. A policy is considered carried directly or indirectly by the employer if:

  1. The employer pays any cost of the life insurance, or
  2. The employer arranges for the premium payments and the premiums paid by at least one employee subsidize those paid by at least one other employee (known as the “straddle” rule).

A policy that is not considered carried directly or indirectly by the employer has no tax consequences to the employee.  Also, because the employees are paying the cost and the employer is not redistributing the cost of the premiums through an insurance system, the employer has no reporting requirements.

Read the analysis at AdvisorFYI

 

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Cost Competitiveness of Life Insurance

Posted by William Byrnes on February 14, 2011


Cost competitiveness of life insurance policies is an obvious determinant of suitability.  Keeping costs low is critical because every dollar spent on expenses is one less dollar available to purchase more death benefit.  In fact, a recent study by Morningstar revealed that “Low fees are likely to be the best predictor of a mutual fund’s future success,” and the same certainly holds true for life insurance products. 

While different insurers refer to different policy expenses in different ways, all policy expenses in all life insurance policies fall into the following four categories: 1) cost of insurance charges (COIs), 2) fixed administration expenses (FAEs), 3) cash-value-based “wrap fees” (e.g., M&Es), and 4) premium loads.   Each type of policy expense and its role and relevance in pricing and suitability is discussed in the complete analysis 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 life insurance product suitability in Advisor’s Journal, see Life Insurance Product Suitability (CC 10-90) and Financial Strength and Claims-Paying Ability (CC 10-115).

We invite your questions and comments by posting them or by calling the Panel of Experts.

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Cancellation of a Policy Generates Taxable Income: The Sanders Case

Posted by William Byrnes on January 19, 2011


Life insurance policies are granted preferred tax treatment, with death benefits distributable tax-free to beneficiaries, but some distributions from a life insurance policy are subject to income tax. For instance, although inside buildup of policy value occurs tax-free, when that value is tapped through policy withdrawals, the policy owner may be taxed on the distribution. Current income taxation can also result when a policy is cancelled or otherwise terminated when a policy loan is outstanding, as illustrated by a recent Tax Court case.

For previous coverage of life insurance developments in Advisor’s Journal, see Life Insurance: Iron-Clad Asset Protection or Chink in the Armor? (CC 10-114) and IRS Blesses Life Insurance Policy Held by Profit-Sharing Plan (CC 10-96).  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 in-depth analysis of policy loans and withdrawals, see Advisor’s Main Library: Section 19.1 G—Tax Treatment Of Policy Loan Interest and Section 19.1 C—Taxation of Amounts Payable During Life.

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