ABUSIVE INSURANCE PLANS GET RED FLAG

Journal of Accountancy January 2008
Prepared by Lance Wallach, CLU, ChFC, CIMC, of Plainview, N.Y.

The IRS in Notice 2007-83 identified as listed transactions certain trust arrangements involving cash-value life insurance policies. Revenue Ruling 2007-65, issued simultaneously, addressed situations where the tax deduction has been disallowed, in part or in whole, for premiums paid on such cash-value life insurance policies. Also simultaneously issued was Notice 2007-84, which disallows tax deductions and imposes severe penalties for welfare benefit plans that primarily and impermissibly benefit shareholders and highly compensated employees.

Taxpayers participating in these listed transactions must disclose such participation to the Service by January 15. Failure to disclose can result in severe penalties--- up to $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for corporations.

Ruling 2007-65 aims at situations where cash-value life insurance is purchased on owner/employees and other key employees, while only term insurance is offered to the rank and file. These are sold as 419(e), 419(f) (6), and 419 plans. Other arrangements described by the ruling may also be listed transactions. A business in such an arrangement cannot deduct premiums paid for cash-value life insurance.

A CPA who is approached by a client about one of these arrangements must exercise the utmost degree of caution, and not only on behalf of the client. The severe penalties noted above can also be applied to the preparers of returns that fail to properly disclose listed transactions.

Prepared by Lance Wallach, CLU, ChFC, CIMC, of Plainview, N.Y.,
516-938-5007, a writer and speaker on voluntary employee’s beneficiary associations and other employee benefits. www.vebaplan.com

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Lance Wallach said...

Liquidation Comes For Lavish Insurer

January |By Laurie Cohen
In 1990 Chicago insurance executive Raymond Ankner flew about 100 of his top agents to Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest in Cologne. The cost of the trip was $800,000, billed to Ankner`s businesses.
But insurance regulators were already beginning to question expenses at his main insurance unit, InterAmerican Insurance Co. of Illinois. When the Illinois Insurance Department obtained a court order last month to liquidate the company, court papers showed a balance sheet crowded with overvalued real estate and questionable intercompany transactions and reinsurance arrangements.
The collapse of InterAmerican is expected to be the biggest life insurance failure in Illinois history, with a gap of more than $30 million between assets and liabilities. It has placed in the hands of state regulators the largest real estate and mortgage
Portfolio.

ever managed by the department. InterAmerican`s $33 million portfolio of mortgages and real estate covers several investments on Chicago`s Near West Side, including a loan on its headquarters at 901 W. Jackson Blvd. There also are more far-flung holdings, such as loans to donut shops in Michigan and a bed-and-breakfast in Vermont. Nearly half the $20.5 million in mortgage loans are behind on payments, according to department officials.
Regulators are still investigating the possibility that company funds were improperly used. No charges have been filed, and Ankner denies any suggestion of wrongdoing.
A report by an independent accountant hired by the Insurance Department highlights several questionable charges, such as a $53,681 check to Neiman-Marcus Co. for catering a 1989 Christmas party at Ankner`s apartment here, the company`s payment of most of his $5,200 monthly rent and even a portion of the salaries of Ankner`s gardener