Lance Wallach, Expert Witness.

Offshore International Today                                        

IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program Reopens




Today, the Internal Revenue Service reopened the offshore voluntary disclosure program to help people hiding offshore accounts get current with their taxes.  Additionally, the IRS revealed the collection of more than $4.4 billion so far from the two previous international programs.

The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) was reopened following continued strong interest from taxpayers and tax practitioners after the closure of the 2011 and 2009 programs. The third offshore program comes as the IRS continues working on a wide range of international tax issues and follows ongoing efforts with the Justice Department to pursue criminal prosecution of international tax evasion.  This program will remain open indefinitely until otherwise announced.

Lance Wallach and his associates have received thousands of phone calls from concerned clients with questions about the prior programs. Some of Lance’s associates are still very busy helping people with the last program. Not a single person has been audited and most are pleased with the results and are now able to sleep easily without worrying about the IRS.  According to Lance, it requires years of experience to obtain a good result from the program.
He suggests using a CPA-certified, ex-IRS agent with lots of international tax experience. While this is not a requirement to file under the program, Lance has heard many horror stories from people who have tried to file by themselves or who have used inexperienced accountants.

“Our focus on offshore tax evasion continues to produce strong, substantial results for the nation’s taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We have billions of dollars in hand from our previous efforts, and we have more people wanting to come in and get right with the government. This new program makes good sense for taxpayers still hiding assets overseas and for the nation’s tax system.”

The new program is similar to the 2011 program in many ways, but it has a few key differences. Unlike last year, there is no set deadline for people to apply.  However, the terms of the program could change at any time going forward.  For example, the IRS may increase penalties in the program for all or some taxpayers or defined classes of taxpayers – or decide to end the program entirely at any point.

“As we've said all along, people need to come in and get right with us before we find you,” Shulman said. “We are following more leads and the risk for people who do not come in continues to increase.”

The third offshore effort accompanies another announcement that Shulman made today, that the IRS has collected $3.4 billion so far from people who participated in the 2009 offshore program.  That figure reflects closures of about 95 percent of the cases from the 2009 program. On top of that, the IRS has collected an additional $1 billion from up front payments required under the 2011 program.  That number will grow as the IRS processes the 2011 cases.

In all, the IRS has seen 33,000 voluntary disclosures from the 2009 and 2011 offshore initiatives. Since the 2011 program closed last September, hundreds of taxpayers have come forward to make voluntary disclosures.  Those who come in after the closing of the 2011 program will be able to be treated under the provisions of the new OVDP program.

The overall penalty structure for the new program is the same for 2011, except for taxpayers in the highest penalty category.

The new program’s penalty framework requires individuals to pay a penalty of 27.5 percent of the highest aggregate balance in foreign bank accounts/entities or the value of foreign assets during the eight full tax years prior to the disclosure. That is up from 25 percent in the 2011 program. Some taxpayers will be eligible for 5 or 12.5 percent penalties; these remain the same in the new program as in 2011.

Participants must file all original and amended tax returns and include payment for back-taxes and interest for up to eight years as well as paying accuracy-related and/or delinquency penalties.

Participants face a 27.5 percent penalty, but taxpayers in limited situations can qualify for a 5 percent penalty. Smaller offshore accounts will face a 12.5 percent penalty. People whose offshore accounts or assets did not surpass $75,000 in any calendar year covered by the new OVDP will qualify for this lower rate. As under the prior programs, taxpayers who feel that the penalty is disproportionate may opt instead to be examined.

The IRS recognizes that its success in offshore enforcement and in the disclosure programs has raised awareness related to tax filing obligations.  This includes awareness by dual citizens and others who may be delinquent in filing, but owe no U.S. tax. 

Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, abusive tax shelters, financial, international tax, and estate planning.  He writes about 412(i), 419, Section79, FBAR, and captive insurance plans. He speaks at more than ten conventions annually, writes for over fifty publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows including NBC, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and others. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as the AICPA best-selling books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots. He does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit www.taxadvisorexpert.com.

The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any other type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

6707A Penalties & 419 Plans Litigation: More Problems for 419 Plans

6707A Penalties & 419 Plans Litigation: More Problems for 419 Plans: By Lance Wallach , CLU, Chic, CIMC and Ronald H. Snyder, JD, MAAA, EA For years, life insurance companies and agents have tri...

Backlash on too-good-to-be-true insurance plan


No Shelter Here                                                                            September 2011

  By: Lance Wallach


During the past few years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has fined many business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars for participating in several particular types of insurance plans.
The 412(i), 419, captive insurance, and section 79 plans were marketed as a way for small-business owners to set up retirement, welfare benefit plans, or other tax-deductible programs while leveraging huge tax savings, but the IRS put most of them on a list of abusive tax shelters, listed transactions, or similar transactions, etc., and has more recently focused audits on them. Many accountants are unaware of the issues surrounding these plans, and many big-name insurance companies are still encouraging participation in them.

Seems Attractive

The plans are costly up-front, but your money builds over time, and there’s a large payout if the money is removed before death. While many business owners have retirement plans, they also must care for their employees. With one of these plans, business owners are not required to give their workers anything.

Gotcha

Although small business has taken a recessionary hit and owners may not be spending big sums on insurance now, an IRS task force is auditing people who bought these as early as 2004. There is no statute of limitations.
The IRS also requires participants to file Form 8886 informing the IRS of participation in this “abusive transaction.” Failure to file or to file incorrectly will cost the business owner interest and penalties. Plus, you’ll pay back whatever you claimed for a deduction, and there are additional fines — possibly 70% of the tax benefit you claim in a year. And, if your accountant does not confidentially inform on you, he or she will get fined $100,000 by the IRS. Further, the IRS can freeze assets if you don’t pay and can fine you on a corporate and a personal level despite the type of business entity you have.

Legal Wrangling

Currently, small businesses facing audits and potentially huge tax penalties over these plans are filing lawsuits against those who marketed, designed, and sold the plans. Find out promptly if you have one of these plans and seek advice from a knowledgeable accountant to help you properly file Form 8886.
—Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, financial and estate planning, and abusive tax shelters. www.taxaudit419.com, www.vebaplan.org, and www.section79plan.org
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as specific legal or financial advice.


IRS Auditing 412i, 419e


Plan Administrator Frustrated With IRS Attacks on 412i, 412e Plans

IRS Auditing 412(i) Plans


Captive Insurance and Other Tax Reduction Strategies – The Good, Bad, and Ugly




By Lance Wallach                                                                  May 14th


Every accountant knows that increased cash flow and cost savings are critical for businesses.  What is uncertain is the best path to recommend to garner these benefits.

Over the past decade business owners have been overwhelmed by a plethora of choices designed to reduce the cost of providing employee benefits while increasing their own retirement savings. The solutions ranged from traditional pension and profit sharing plans to more advanced strategies.

Some strategies, such as IRS section 419 and 412(i) plans, used life insurance as vehicles to bring about benefits. Unfortunately, the high life insurance commissions (often 90% of the contribution, or more) fostered an environment that led to aggressive and noncompliant plans.

The result has been thousands of audits and an IRS task force seeking out tax shelter promotion. For unknowing clients, the tax consequences are enormous. For their accountant advisors, the liability may be equally extreme.

Recently, there has been an explosion in the marketing of a financial product called Captive Insurance. These so called “Captives” are typically small insurance companies designed to insure the risks of an individual business under IRS code section 831(b). When properly designed, a business can make tax-deductible premium payments to a related-party insurance company. Depending on circumstances, underwriting profits, if any, can be paid out to the owners as dividends, and profits from liquidation of the company may be taxed as capital gains.

While captives can be a great cost saving tool, they also are expensive to build and manage. Also, captives are allowed to garner tax benefits because they operate as real insurance companies. Advisors and business owners who misuse captives or market them as estate planning tools, asset protection vehicles, tax deferral or other benefits not related to the true business purpose of an insurance company face grave regulatory and tax consequences.

A recent concern is the integration of small captives with life insurance policies. Small captives under section 831(b) have no statutory authority to deduct life premiums. Also, if a small captive uses life insurance as an investment, the cash value of the life policy can be taxable at corporate rates, and then will be taxable again when distributed.  The consequence of this double taxation is to devastate the efficacy of the life insurance, and it extends serious liability to any accountant who recommends the plan or even signs the tax return of the business that pays premiums to the captive.

The IRS is aware that several large insurance companies are promoting their life insurance policies as investments with small captives. The outcome looks eerily like that of the 419 and 412(i) plans mentioned above.

Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is. There are safe and conservative ways to use captive insurance structures to lower costs and obtain benefits for businesses. And, some types of captive insurance products do have statutory protection for deducting life insurance premiums (although not 831(b) captives). Learning what works and is safe is the first step an accountant should take in helping his or her clients use these powerful, but highly technical insurance tools. 



Lance Wallach speaks and writes extensively about VEBAs, retirement plans, and tax reduction strategies.  He speaks at more than 70 conventions annually, writes for 50 publications, and was the National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year.  Contact him at 516.938.5007 or visit www.vebaplan.com.
    The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any other type of advice for any specific individual or other entity.  You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.



Captive Insurance and Other Tax Reduction Strategies – The Good, Bad, and Ugly




By Lance Wallach                                                                  May 14th


Every accountant knows that increased cash flow and cost savings are critical for businesses.  What is uncertain is the best path to recommend to garner these benefits.

Over the past decade business owners have been overwhelmed by a plethora of choices designed to reduce the cost of providing employee benefits while increasing their own retirement savings. The solutions ranged from traditional pension and profit sharing plans to more advanced strategies.

Some strategies, such as IRS section 419 and 412(i) plans, used life insurance as vehicles to bring about benefits. Unfortunately, the high life insurance commissions (often 90% of the contribution, or more) fostered an environment that led to aggressive and noncompliant plans.

The result has been thousands of audits and an IRS task force seeking out tax shelter promotion. For unknowing clients, the tax consequences are enormous. For their accountant advisors, the liability may be equally extreme.

Recently, there has been an explosion in the marketing of a financial product called Captive Insurance. These so called “Captives” are typically small insurance companies designed to insure the risks of an individual business under IRS code section 831(b). When properly designed, a business can make tax-deductible premium payments to a related-party insurance company. Depending on circumstances, underwriting profits, if any, can be paid out to the owners as dividends, and profits from liquidation of the company may be taxed as capital gains.

While captives can be a great cost saving tool, they also are expensive to build and manage. Also, captives are allowed to garner tax benefits because they operate as real insurance companies. Advisors and business owners who misuse captives or market them as estate planning tools, asset protection vehicles, tax deferral or other benefits not related to the true business purpose of an insurance company face grave regulatory and tax consequences.

A recent concern is the integration of small captives with life insurance policies. Small captives under section 831(b) have no statutory authority to deduct life premiums. Also, if a small captive uses life insurance as an investment, the cash value of the life policy can be taxable at corporate rates, and then will be taxable again when distributed.  The consequence of this double taxation is to devastate the efficacy of the life insurance, and it extends serious liability to any accountant who recommends the plan or even signs the tax return of the business that pays premiums to the captive.

The IRS is aware that several large insurance companies are promoting their life insurance policies as investments with small captives. The outcome looks eerily like that of the 419 and 412(i) plans mentioned above.

Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it usually is. There are safe and conservative ways to use captive insurance structures to lower costs and obtain benefits for businesses. And, some types of captive insurance products do have statutory protection for deducting life insurance premiums (although not 831(b) captives). Learning what works and is safe is the first step an accountant should take in helping his or her clients use these powerful, but highly technical insurance tools. 



Lance Wallach speaks and writes extensively about VEBAs, retirement plans, and tax reduction strategies.  He speaks at more than 70 conventions annually, writes for 50 publications, and was the National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year.  Contact him at 516.938.5007 or visit www.vebaplan.com.
    The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any other type of advice for any specific individual or other entity.  You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.



Dont Give the IRS Every Last Drop

Dont Give the IRS Every Last Drop

IRS Tax Audits, 419 and 412i plans, Tax resolution services

IRS Tax Audits, 419 and 412i plans, Tax resolution services: Check out http://taxadvisorexperts.com! Expert CPA help with 419a, 419e, 419, 412i, welfare benefit plans, 6707a penalties, form 8886, IRS audits, Section 79, Captive insurance, FBAR, tax masters, jk harris, wpi, us tax shield.

IRS Tax Audits, 419 and 412i plans, Tax resolution services

IRS Tax Audits, 419 and 412i plans, Tax resolution services: Check out http://taxadvisorexperts.com! Expert CPA help with 419a, 419e, 419, 412i, welfare benefit plans, 6707a penalties, form 8886, IRS audits, Section 79, Captive insurance, FBAR, tax masters, jk harris, wpi, us tax shield.

Veba, irs audit, Lance Wallach

Veba, irs audit, Lance Wallach: Lance Wallach is the nation's leading expert on VEBAs, 412(i), 419 and captive insurance plans.

The Future of Life Settlements


           
Gerson Lehrman Group

September 28

Summary

By Lance Wallach

Many insurance professionals now think that the life settlement market is ending. Agents assisting their clients in the sale of their unneeded life insurance policies have no doubt been frustrated by the lack of bids in the current life settlement market. It doesn't help much either when the few bids that are made are often much less than what they would have been in years past. So the future of the life settlement market is dim.

Analysis

 And what about the lawsuits that have started? The life settlement market saw double-digit annual growth for a decade until 2008. When the financial crisis hit, global markets and credit evaporated, and the life settlement markets came to a standstill. How did this happen to a market that was supposedly not correlated to other markets?
The life settlement market has long been touted as a non-corollary asset class. Even today many promoters looking to raise funds from investors still highlight this investment benefit. I have always doubted everything about the market and have urged people to stay away. How would you know if Tony Soprano is buying your mother’s life insurance policy? I am a member of the Sons of Italy. I was awarded membership even though I am Jewish. Why? Because I am a friend of the President.
.
Interest rates and stock market prices impact the portfolios of life insurance carriers. The solvency of a life insurance company directly impacts its ability to meet death claims. Why would life settlements be immune? If carriers like AIG teeter on the edge of financial ruin, then credit risk becomes a primary concern for life settlement investors. You may have heard that an ‘A’-rated carrier has never failed to pay a death claim. This is a great lie. The insurance company is usually no longer rated ‘A’ by the time they fail to pay.

I think that the life settlement market will not have any future source of funds within two years.

Life insurance companies have been attacking the market for years. Their vast experience in underwriting has already proven victorious as table changes in 2008 damaged the Net Asset Value of all life settlement funds. Their lobbying against life settlements has also been successful. Overly burdensome and poorly written life settlement regulation in various states has simultaneously increased the operating expenses for life settlement firms and decreased the opportunity for the consumer. 


Life insurance companies are adjusting their COI rates higher and blaming life settlements for the change. They will sell insurance to preserve and protect wealth, yet the very products they sell are backed by investments mired in mountains of debt, equities with high P/E ratios, and issued in a currency that is deeply flawed. Even though many carriers survived the Great Depression, our financial markets are considerably more complex today than they were then and this may cause many carriers to soon find themselves with big problems in the future.

Lance Wallach, National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year and member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, is a frequent speaker on retirement plans, abusive tax shelters, financial, international tax, and estate planning.  He writes about 412(i), 419, Section79, FBAR, and captive insurance plans. He speaks at more than ten conventions annually, writes for over fifty publications, is quoted regularly in the press and has been featured on television and radio financial talk shows including NBC, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and others. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams published by John Wiley and Sons, Bisk Education’s CPA’s Guide to Life Insurance and Federal Estate and Gift Taxation, as well as the AICPA best-selling books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Small Business Hot Spots. He does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit
www.vebaplan.comwww.taxadvisorexpert.com

The information provided herein is not intended as legal, accounting, financial or any type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.