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IRS Makes Taxpayers Aware of Many Scams That Will Get Them in Trouble


Published in RetirementSociety.com  January 19

By Lance Wallach

 

“Taxpayers should be wary of scams to avoid paying taxes that seem too good to be true, especially during these challenging economic times,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “There is no secret trick that can eliminate a person’s tax obligations. People should be wary of anyone peddling any of these scams.”

Tax schemes are illegal and can lead to problems for both scam artists and taxpayers who risk significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution.

The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these common schemes.

Abusive Retirement Plans

The IRS continues to uncover abuses in retirement plan arrangements, including Roth Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). The IRS is looking for transactions that taxpayers are using to avoid the limitations on contributions to IRAs as well as transactions that are not properly reported as early distributions. Taxpayers should be wary of advisers who encourage them to shift appreciated assets into IRAs or companies owned by their IRAs at less than fair market value to circumvent annual contribution limits. Other variations have included the use of limited liability companies to engage in activity that is considered prohibited.

419 Plans

If they have cash value life insurance in them they are abusive. Some of the plans like Nova, run by Benistar can also be criminal. For more on 419 plans visit www.taxaudit419.com

412i Plans

Such plans can be abusive with cash value life insurance. For more information visit www.taxlibrary.com or www.experttaxadvisors.org.

Captive Insurance Plans

These were listed transactions and then taken off the list. IRS still looks closely at them. They are usually sold by life insurance agents.

Section 79 plans

 IRS is looking very closely at section 79 plans. They are usually sold by life insurance agents.

Hiding Income Offshore

The IRS aggressively pursues taxpayers and promoters involved in abusive offshore transactions. Taxpayers have tried to avoid or evade U.S. income tax by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or through other entities. Recently, the IRS provided guidance to auditors on how to deal with those hiding income offshore in undisclosed accounts. The IRS draws a clear line between taxpayers with offshore accounts who voluntarily come forward and those who fail to come forward.

Taxpayers also evade taxes by using offshore debit cards, credit cards, wire transfers, foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities or life insurance plans. The IRS has also identified abusive offshore schemes including those that involve use of electronic funds transfer and payment systems, offshore business merchant accounts and private banking relationships.

Filing False or Misleading Forms

The IRS is seeing scam artists file false or misleading returns to claim refunds that they are not entitled to. Frivolous information returns, such as Form 1099-Original Issue Discount (OID), claiming false withholding credits are used to legitimize erroneous refund claims. The new scam has evolved from an earlier phony argument that a “strawman” bank account has been created for each citizen. Under this scheme, taxpayers fabricate an information return, arguing they used their “strawman” account to pay for goods and services and falsely claim the corresponding amount as withholding as a way to seek a tax refund.

Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions

The IRS continues to observe the misuse of tax-exempt organizations. Abuse includes arrangements to improperly shield income or assets from taxation and attempts by donors to maintain control over donated assets or income from donated property. The IRS also continues to investigate various schemes involving the donation of non-cash assets, including easements on property, closely held corporate stock and real property. Often, the donations are highly overvalued or the organization receiving the donation promises that the donor can purchase the items back at a later date at a price the donor sets. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 imposed increased penalties for inaccurate appraisals and new definitions of qualified appraisals and qualified appraisers for taxpayers claiming charitable contributions.

Return Preparer Fraud

Dishonest return preparers can cause many headaches for taxpayers who fall victim to their ploys. Such preparers derive financial gain by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds and charging inflated fees for return preparation services. They attract new clients by promising large refunds. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No matter who prepares the return, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for its accuracy. Since 2002, the courts have issued injunctions ordering dozens of individuals to cease preparing returns, and the Department of Justice has filed complaints against dozens of others, which are pending in court.

Frivolous Arguments

Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage people to make unreasonable and unfounded claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. The IRS has a list of frivolous legal positions that taxpayers should stay away from. Taxpayers who file a tax return or make a submission based on one of the positions on the list are subject to a $5,000 penalty. More information is available on IRS.gov.

False Claims for Refund and Requests for Abatement

This scam involves a request for abatement of previously assessed tax using Form 843 Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. Many individuals who try this have not previously filed tax returns. The tax they are trying to have abated has been assessed by the IRS through the Substitute for Return Program. The filer uses Form 843 to list reasons for the request. Often, one of the reasons given is “Failed to properly compute and/or calculate Section 83-Property Transferred in Connection with Performance of Service.”

Disguised Corporate Ownership

Some taxpayers form corporations and other entities in certain states for the primary purpose of disguising the ownership of a business or financial activity. Such entities can be used to facilitate underreporting of income, fictitious deductions, non-filing of tax returns, participating in listed transactions, money laundering, financial crimes, and even terrorist financing. The IRS is working with state authorities to identify these entities and to bring the owners of these entities into compliance.

Zero Wages

Filing a phony wage- or income-related information return to replace a legitimate information return has been used as an illegal method to lower the amount of taxes owed. Typically, a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 is used as a way to improperly reduce taxable income to zero. The taxpayer also may submit a statement rebutting wages and taxes reported by a payer to the IRS. Sometimes fraudsters even include an explanation on their Form 4852 that cites statutory language on the definition of wages or may include some reference to a paying company that refuses to issue a corrected Form W-2 for fear of IRS retaliation. Taxpayers should resist any temptation to participate in any of the variations of this scheme.

Misuse of Trusts

For years, unscrupulous promoters have urged taxpayers to transfer assets into trusts. While there are many legitimate, valid uses of trusts in tax and estate planning, some promoted transactions promise reduction of income subject to tax, deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the promised tax benefits and are being used primarily as a means to avoid income tax liability and hide assets from creditors, including the IRS.

The IRS has recently seen an increase in the improper use of private annuity trusts and foreign trusts to divert income and deduct personal expenses. As with other arrangements, taxpayers should seek the advice of a trusted professional before entering into a trust arrangement.

Fuel Tax Credit Scams

The IRS is receiving claims for the fuel tax credit that are unreasonable. Some taxpayers, such as farmers who use fuel for off-highway business purposes, may be eligible for the fuel tax credit. But some individuals are claiming the tax credit for nontaxable uses of fuel when their occupation or income level makes the claim unreasonable. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is considered a frivolous tax claim, potentially subjecting those who improperly claim the credit to a $5,000 penalty.

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 Pubic 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.

 

Lance Wallach
68 Keswick Lane
Plainview, NY 11803
Ph.: (516)938-5007
Fax: (516)938-6330
www.vebaplan.com

National Society of Accountants Speaker of The Year



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.

 

 

 


IRS Hiring Agents in Abusive Transactions Group

 FAST PITCH NETWORKING

  Posted: Dec. 10

  By Lance Wallach

Here it is. Here is your proof of my predictions. Perhaps you didn’t believe me when I told you the IRS was coming after what it has deemed “abusive transactions,” but here it is, right from the IRS’s own job posting. If you were involved with a 419e, 412i, listed transaction, abusive tax shelter, Section 79, or captive, and you haven’t yet approached an expert for help with your situation, you had better do it now, before the notices start piling up on your desk.

A portion of the exact announcement from the Department of the Treasury:

Job Title: INTERNAL REVENUE AGENT (ABUSIVE TRANSACTIONS GROUP)

Agency: Internal Revenue Service

Open Period: Monday, October 18, 2010 to Monday, November 01, 2010

Sub Agency: Internal Revenue Service

Job Announcement Number: 11PH1-SBB0058-0512-12/13

Who May Be Considered:

·        IRS employees on Career or Career Conditional Appointments in the competitive service

·        Treasury Office of Chief Counsel employees on Career or Career Conditional Appointments or with prior competitive status

·        IRS employees on Term Appointments with potential conversion to a Career or Career Conditional Appointment in the same line of work

According to the job description, the agents of the Abusive Transactions Group will be conducting examinations of individuals, sole proprietorships, small corporations, partnerships and fiduciaries. They will be examining tax returns and will “determine the correct tax liability, and identify situations with potential for understated taxes.”

These agents will work in the Small Business/Self Employed Business Division (SB/SE) which provides examinations for about 7 million small businesses and upwards of 33 million self-employed and supplemental income taxpayers. This group specifically goes after taxpayers who generally have higher incomes than most taxpayers, need to file more tax forms, and generally need to rely more on paid tax preparers.” Their examinations can contain “special audit features or anticipated accounting, tax law, or investigative issues,” and look to make sure that, for example, specialty returns are filed properly.

The fines are severe. Under IRC 6707A, fines are up to $200,000 annually for not properly disclosing participation in a listed transaction. There was a moratorium on those fines until June 2010, pending new legislation to reduce them, but the new law virtually guarantees you will be fined. The fines had been $200,000 per year on the corporate level and $100,000 per year on the personal level. You got the fine even if you made no contributions for the year. All you had to do was to be in the plan and fail to properly disclose your participation.

You can possibly still avoid all this by properly filing form 8886 IMMEDIATELY with the IRS. Time is especially of the essence now. You MUST file before you are assessed the penalty. For months the Service has been holding off on actually collecting from people that they assessed because they did not know what Congress was going to do. But now they do know, so they are going to move aggressively to collection with people they have already assessed. There is no reason not to now. This is especially true because the new legislation still does not provide for a right of appeal or judicial review. The Service is still judge, jury, and executioner. Its word is absolute as far as determining what is a listed transaction.

So you have to file form 8886 fast, but you also have to file it properly. The Service treats forms that are incorrectly filed as if they were never filed. You get fined for filing incorrectly, or for not filing at all. The Statute of Limitations does not begin unless you properly file. That means IRS can come back to get you any time in the future unless you file properly.

If you don’t want these new IRS Agents, or any other IRS agents for that matter, to be earning their paychecks by coming after you, make sure you have done all you can to ensure that you have filed properly by reaching out for expert help today.

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 gives expert witness testimony and his side has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit www.taxadvisorexperts.org or www.taxaudit419.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

 

 

 

 

Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams

Posted: Nov 12, 2010

 

Parts of this article are from the book published by John Wiley and Sons, Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams, authored by Lance Wallach.

Every financial expert out there knows that bad faith and bad planning can take down even the biggest firms, wiping out millions of dollars of value in an instant. Whether it's internal fraud, a scammer, or an incompetent planner that takes your client's cash, the bottom line is: The money is gone and the loss should have been prevented.

 

Filled with authoritative advice from financial expert Lance Wallach, Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence, and Scams equips you as an accountant, attorney, or financial planner with the weaponry you need to detect bad investments before they happen and protect your clients' wealth - as well as your own.

 

Sharp and savvy in its frank, often humorous, and authoritative examination of financial fraud and mismanagement, you'll learn about the dysfunctional sectors in the financial industry and:

 

  • Protecting your retirement assets
  • Asset protection basics
  • Shifting the risk equation: insurance maneuvers
  • Reevaluating existing insurance
  • What financial advisors and insurance agents "forget" to tell their clients
  • The truth about variable annuities
  • What you must know about life settlements
  • The smart way to approach college funding

 

The news for the past two years has been filled with gloom and dangers: Swindles, Bernie Madoff, rip-offs, and the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. But the party's over, and with that era done, it's more important than ever for you to perform the due diligence on all financial maneuvers affecting the money you oversee and provide your clients with assurance in the form of practical solutions for risk and asset management.

 

A pragmatic blueprint for identifying trouble spots you can expect and immediately useful solutions, Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence, and Scams equips you with the resources, strategies, and tools you need to effectively protect your clients from frauds and financial scammers.

 

Herewith is an excerpt from Lance Wallach's book, Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams:

 

The IRS has been cracking down on what it considers to be abusive tax shelters. Many of them are being marketed to small business owners by insurance professionals, financial planners, and even accountants and attorneys. I speak at numerous conventions, for both business owners and accountants. And after I speak, many people who have questions about tax reduction plans that they have heard about always approach me.

 

I have been an expert witness in many of these 419 and 412(i) lawsuits and I have not lost one of them. If you sold one or more of these plans, get someone who really knows what they are doing to help you immediately. Many advisors will take your money and claim to be able to help you. Make sure they have experience helping agents that have sold these types of plans. Make sure they have experience helping accountants who signed the tax returns. IRS calls them material advisors and fines them $200,000 if they are incorporated or $100,000 if not. Do not let them learn on the job, with your career and money at stake.

 

Lance Wallach, CLU, CHFC, is a leading speaker on accounting and taxation topics and the author of numerous AICPA CPE exam publications.  In addition to developing CPE courses, he is also a member of the AICPA faculty of teaching professionals, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Bloomberg Financial News, NBC, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and other radio talk shows.  You may contact him at 516.938.5007, wallachinc@gmail.com or visit his website www.taxaudit419.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.

 


IRS Audits 419, 412i, Captive Insurance Plans With Life Insurance, and Section 79 Scams

  Article Biz                                                                               

 Lance Wallach                                                         June 2011

The IRS started auditing 419 plans in the ‘90s, and then continued going after 412i and other plans that they considered abusive, listed, or reportable transactions. Listed designated as listed in published IRS material available to the general public or transactions that are substantially similar to the specific listed transactions. A reportable transaction is defined simply as one that has the potential for tax avoidance or evasion.

In a recent Tax Court Case, Curcio v. Commissioner (TC Memo 2010-15), the Tax Court ruled that an investment in an employee welfare benefit plan marketed under the name "Benistar" was a listed transaction in that the transaction in question was substantially similar to the transaction described in IRS Notice 95-34. A subsequent case, McGehee Family Clinic, largely followed Curcio, though it was technically decided on other grounds. The parties stipulated to be bound by Curcio on the issue of whether the amounts paid by McGehee in connection with the Benistar 419 Plan and Trust were deductible. Curcio did not appear to have been decided yet at the time McGehee was argued. The McGehee opinion (Case No. 10-102) (United States Tax Court, September 15, 2010) does contain an exhaustive analysis and discussion of virtually all of the relevant issues.

Taxpayers and their representatives should be aware that the Service has disallowed deductions for contributions to these arrangements. The IRS is cracking down on small business owners who participate in tax reduction insurance plans and the brokers who sold them. Some of these plans include defined benefit retirement plans, IRAs, or even 401(k) plans with life insurance.

In order to fully grasp the severity of the situation, one must have an understanding of Notice 95-34, which was issued in response to trust arrangements sold to companies that were designed to provide deductible benefits such as life insurance, disability and severance pay benefits. The promoters of these arrangements claimed that all employer contributions were tax-deductible when paid, by relying on the 10-or-more-employer exemption from the IRC § 419 limits. It was claimed that permissible tax deductions were unlimited in amount.

In general, contributions to a welfare benefit fund are not fully deductible when paid. Sections 419 and 419A impose strict limits on the amount of tax-deductible prefunding permitted for contributions to a welfare benefit fund. Section 419A(F)(6) provides an exemption from Section 419 and Section 419A for certain "10-or-more employers" welfare benefit funds. In general, for this exemption to apply, the fund must have more than one contributing employer, of which no single employer can contribute more than 10% of the total contributions, and the plan must not be experience-rated with respect to individual employers.

According to the Notice, these arrangements typically involve an investment in variable life or universal life insurance contracts on the lives of the covered employees. The problem is that the employer contributions are large relative to the cost of the amount of term insurance that would be required to provide the death benefits under the arrangement, and the trust administrator may obtain cash to pay benefits other than death benefits, by such means as cashing in or withdrawing the cash value of the insurance policies. The plans are also often designed so that a particular employer’s contributions or its employees’ benefits may be determined in a way that insulates the employer to a significant extent from the experience of other subscribing employers. In general, the contributions and claimed tax deductions tend to be disproportionate to the economic realities of the arrangements.

Benistar advertised that enrollees should expect to obtain the same type of tax benefits as listed in the transaction described in Notice 95-34. The benefits of enrollment listed in its advertising packet included:
Virtually unlimited deductions for the employer;
Contributions could vary from year to year;
Benefits could be provided to one or more key executives on a selective basis;
No need to provide benefits to rank-and-file employees;
Contributions to the plan were not limited by qualified plan rules and would not interfere with pension, profit sharing or 401(k) plans;
Funds inside the plan would accumulate tax-free;
Beneficiaries could receive death proceeds free of both income tax and estate tax;
The program could be arranged for tax-free distribution at a later date;
Funds in the plan were secure from the hands of creditors.

The Court said that the Benistar Plan was factually similar to the plans described in Notice 95-34 at all relevant times.

In rendering its decision the court heavily cited Curcio, in which the court also ruled in favor of the IRS. As noted in Curcio, the insurance policies, overwhelmingly variable or universal life policies, required large contributions relative to the cost of the amount of term insurance that would be required to provide the death benefits under the arrangement. The Benistar Plan owned the insurance contracts.

Following Curcio, as the parties had stipulated, on the question of the amnesty  paid by Mcghee in connection with benistar, the Court held that the contributions to Benistar were not deductible under section 162(a) because participants could receive the value reflected in the underlying insurance policies purchased by Benistar—despite the payment of benefits by Benistar seeming to be contingent upon an unanticipated event (the death of the insured while employed). As long as plan participants were willing to abide by Benistar’s distribution policies, there was no reason ever to forfeit a policy to the plan. In fact, in estimating life insurance rates, the taxpayers’ expert in Curcio assumed that there would be no forfeitures, even though he admitted that an insurance company would generally assume a reasonable rate of policy lapses.

The McGehee Family Clinic had enrolled in the Benistar Plan in May 2001 and claimed deductions for contributions to it in 2002 and 2005. The returns did not include a Form 8886, Reportable Transaction Disclosure Statement, or similar disclosure.

The IRS disallowed the latter deduction and adjusted the 2004 return of shareholder Robert Prosser and his wife to include the $50,000 payment to the plan. The IRS also assessed tax deficiencies and the enhanced 30% penalty totaling almost $21,000 against the clinic and $21,000 against the Prossers. The court ruled that the Prossers failed to prove a reasonable cause or good faith exception.

More you should know:

In recent years, some section 412(i) plans have been funded with life insurance using face amounts in excess of the maximum death benefit a qualified plan is permitted to pay. Ideally, the plan should limit the proceeds that can be paid as a death benefit in the event of a participant’s death. Excess amounts would revert to the plan. Effective February 13, 2004, the purchase of excessive life insurance in any plan makes the plan a listed transaction if the face amount of the insurance exceeds the amount that can be issued by $100,000 or more and the employer has deducted the premiums for the insurance.
A 412(i) plan in and of itself is not a listed transaction; however, the IRS has a task force auditing 412i plans.
An employer has not engaged in a listed transaction simply because it is in a 412(i) plan.
Just because a 412(i) plan was audited and sanctioned for certain items, does not necessarily mean the plan is a listed transaction. Some 412(i) plans have been audited and sanctioned for issues not related to listed transactions.

Companies should carefully evaluate proposed investments in plans such as the Benistar Plan. The claimed deductions will not be available, and penalties will be assessed for lack of disclosure if the investment is similar to the investments described in Notice 95-34. In addition, under IRC 6707A, IRS fines participants a large amount of money for not properly disclosing their participation in listed or reportable or similar transactions; an issue that was not before the Tax Court in either Curcio or McGehee. The disclosure needs to be made for every year the participant is in a plan. The forms need to be properly filed even for years that no contributions are made. I have received numerous calls from participants who did disclose and still got fined because the forms were not prepared properly. A plan administrator told me that he assisted hundreds of his participants file forms, and they still all received very large IRS fines for not properly filling in the forms.

IRS has been attacking all 419 welfare benefit plans, many 412i retirement plans, captive insurance plans with life insurance in them, and Section 79 plans.

 

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 Pubic 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 type of advice for any specific individual or other entity. You should contact an appropriate professional for any such advice.

 

NCCPAP November 2010

Newsletter 2010

 

Business Owners in 419, 412i, Section 79 and Captive Insurance Plans Will Probably Be Fined by the IRS Under Section 6707A

by Lance Wallach

 

Taxpayers who previously adopted 419, 412i, captive insurance or Section 79 plans are in big trouble. In recent years, the IRS has identified many of these arrangements as abusive devices to funnel tax deductible dollars to shareholders and classified these arrangements as “listed transactions.” These plans were sold by insurance agents, financial planners, accountants and attorneys seeking large life insurance commissions. In general, taxpayers who engage in a “listed transaction” must report such transaction to the IRS on Form 8886 every year that they “participate” in the transaction, and the taxpayer does not necessarily have to make a contribution or claim a tax deduction to be deemed to participate. Section 6707A of the Code imposes severe penalties ($200,000 for a business and $100,000 for an individual) for failure to file Form 8886 with respect to a listed transaction. But a taxpayer can also be in trouble if they file incorrectly. I have received numerous phone calls from business owners who filed and still got fined. Not only does

the taxpayer have to file Form 8886, but it has to be prepared correctly. I only know of two people in the United States who have filed these forms properly for clients. They told me that the form was prepared after hundreds of hours of research and over fifty phones calls to various IRS personnel. The filing instructions for Form 8886 presume a timely filing. Most people file late and follow the directions for currently preparing the forms. Then the IRS fines the business owner. The tax court does not have

jurisdiction to abate or lower such penalties imposed by the IRS.

 

Many business owners adopted 412i, 419, captive insurance and Section 79 plans based upon representations provided by insurance professionals that the plans were legitimate plans and

they were not informed that they were engaging in a listed transaction. Upon audit, these taxpayers were shocked when the IRS asserted penalties under Section 6707A of the Code in the hundreds

of thousands of dollars. Numerous complaints from these taxpayers caused Congress to impose a moratorium on assessment of Section 6707A penalties.

 

The moratorium on IRS fines expired on June 1, 2010. The IRS immediately started sending out notices proposing the imposition of Section 6707A penalties along with requests for lengthy extensions of the Statute of Limitations for the purpose of assessing tax. Many of these taxpayers stopped taking deductions for contributions to these plans years ago, and are confused and upset by the IRS’s inquiry, especially when the taxpayer had previously reached a monetary settlement with the IRS regarding the deductions

taken in prior years. Logic and common sense dictate that a penalty should not apply if the taxpayer no longer benefits from the arrangement.

 

Treas. Reg. Sec. 1.6011-4(c)(3)(i) provides that a taxpayer has participated in a listed transaction if the taxpayer’s tax return reflects tax consequences or a tax strategy described in the published guidance identifying the transaction as a listed transaction or a transaction that is the same or substantially

similar to a listed transaction. Clearly, the primary benefit in the participation of these plans is the large tax deduction generated by such participation. It follows that taxpayers who no longer enjoy the benefit of those large deductions are no longer “participating” in the listed transaction.

 

But that is not the end of the story. Many taxpayers who are no longer taking current tax deductions for these plans continue to enjoy the benefit of previous tax deductions by continuing the deferral of income from contributions and deductions taken in prior years. While the regulations do not expand on what constitutes “reflecting the tax consequences of the strategy,” it could be argued that continued benefit from a tax deferral for a previous tax deduction is within the contemplation of a “tax consequence” of the plan strategy. Also, many taxpayers who no longer make contributions or claim tax deductions continue to pay administrative fees. Sometimes, money is taken from the plan to pay premiums to keep life insurance policies in force. In these ways, it could be argued that these taxpayers are still “contributing,” and thus still must file Form 8886.

 

It is clear that the extent to which a taxpayer benefits from the transaction depends on the purpose of a particular transaction as described in the published guidance that caused such transaction to be a listed transaction. Revenue Ruling 2004-20, which classifies 419(e) transactions, appears to be concerned with the employer’s contribution/deduction amount rather than the continued deferral of the income in previous years. This language may provide the taxpayer with a solid argument in the event of an audit.

 

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; speaks at more than ten conventions annually; writes for over fifty publications; is quoted regularly in the press; and has been featured on TV and radio financial talk shows. Lance has written numerous books including Protecting Clients from Fraud, Incompetence and Scams (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.taxadvisorexperts.org or www.taxlibrary.us.or www.vebaplan.org, www.lancewallach.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.

 

Lance Wallach
68 Keswick Lane
Plainview, NY 11803
Ph.: (516)938-5007
Fax: (516)938-6330
www.vebaplan.com

National Society of Accountants Speaker of The Year



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.