Popular so-called “419 Insurance Welfare Benefit Plans,” sold by most insurance professionals, are getting accountants and their clients into more and more trouble. A CPA who is approached by a client about one of the abusive arrangements and/or situations to be described and discussed in this article must exercise the utmost degree of caution, not only on behalf of the client, but for his/her own good as well.
The penalties noted in this article can also be applied to practitioners who prepare and/or sign returns that fail to properly disclose listed transactions, including those discussed herein.
On Oct. 17, 2007, the IRS issued Notice 2007-83, Notice 2007-84, and Revenue Ruling 2007-65. Notice 2007-83 essentially lists the characteristics of welfare benefit plans that the Service regards as listed transactions. Put simply, to be a listed transaction, a plan cannot rely on the union exception set forth in IRC Section 419A(f)(5),there must be cash value life insurance within the plan and excessive tax deductions for life insurance, in excess of what may be permitted by Sections 419 and 419A, must have been claimed.
In Notice 2007-84, the Service expressed concern with plans that provide all or a substantial portion of benefits to owners and/or key and highly compensated employees. The notice identified numerous specific concerns, among them:
1. The granting of loans to participants;
2. Providing deferred compensation;
3. Plan terminations that result in the distribution of assets rather than being used post-retirement, as originally established; and
4. Permitting the transfer of life insurance policies to participants.