412i Tax Shelter Fraud Litigation - How It Works

Lance Wallach


Typically, these transactions will include an Insurance company, accountant, tax attorney, and a promoter (someone with an insurance background, perhaps an actuary, who knows how to structure the policy itself). These groups will use insurance brokerages and sub-agents (licensed in the various states) to sell the policies themselves. 


In the late 1990’s, the individuals and groups above devised a scheme to sell abusive tax shelters under the auspices of Section 412(i) of the tax code. A 412(i) is a defined benefit pension plan. It provides specific retirement benefits to participants once they reach retirement and must contain assets sufficient to pay those benefits. A 412(i) plan differs from other defined benefit pension plans in that it must be funded exclusively by the purchase of individual life insurance products. To create a 412(i) plan, there must be a trust to hold the assets. The employer funds the plan by making cash contributions to the trust, and the Code allows the employer to take a tax deduction in the amount of the contributions, i.e. the entire amount.
The trust uses the contributed funds to purchase some combination of life insurance products (insurance or annuities) for the plan. As the plan participants retire, the trust will usually sell the policies for their present cash value and purchase annuities with the proceeds. The revenue stream from the annuities pays the specified retirement benefit to plan participants.
These defendants (with the aid and knowledge of the insurance companies) used the traditional structure and sold life insurance policies with excessively high premiums. The trust then uses the large cash contributions to pay high insurance premiums and the employer takes a deduction for the sum of those large contributions. As you might expect, these policies were designed with excessively high fees or “loads” which provided exorbitant commissions to the insurance companies and the agents who sold the products.
The policies that were sold were termed Springing Cash Value Policies. They had no cash value for the first 5-7 years, after which they had significant cash value. Under this scheme, after 5-7 years, and just before the cash value sprung, the participant purchases the policy from the trust for the policy’s surrender value. In theory, you have a tax free transaction.
The IRS does not recognize the tax benefit of such a plan and has repeatedly issued announcements indicating that such plans are contrary to federal tax laws and regulations.

I am not an attorney but I learned some of the above information from attorney’s Mr. Ford’s website.

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. He writes about 412(i), 419, 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 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.taxaudit419.com and www.taxlibrary.us

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.

1 comment:

  1. Twitterce filing protectively. The IRS still has task forces auditing these plans, and will soon move on to Section 79 scams, including many of the illegal captives pushed by the insurance companies and agents (though not all captives are illegal).

    As an expert witness in many of cases involving the 412(i) and 419, I can attest that they often do not go well for the agents, accountants, plan promoters, insurance companies, and other involved parties.

    Here is one example: Pursuant to a settlement with the IRS, a 412(i) plan was converted into a traditional defined benefit plan. All of the contributions to the 412(i) plan would have been allowable if they had initially adopted a traditional defined benefit plan. Based on negotiations with the IRS agent, the audit of the plan resulted in no income and minimal excise taxes due.

    Toward the end of the audit, the business owner received a notice from the IRS. The IRS had assessed a $400,000 penalty for the client under Section 6707A, because the client allegedly participated in a listed transaction and failed to file Form 8886 in a timely manner.

    The IRS may call you a material advisor for selling one of these plans and fine you $200,000.00. The IRS may fine your clients over a million dollars for being in a retirement plan, 419 plan, etc. Anything that the Service deems, at its sole discretion, a "listed transaction" is fair game. As you read this article, hundreds of unfortunate people are having their lives ruined by these fines. You may need to take action immediately.

    Lance Wallach speaks and writes about benefit plans, tax reductions strategies, and financial plans. He can be reached at 516-938-5007 or wallachinc@gmail.com.