Archive for the ‘Annuities & Insurance’ Category

Another Demutualization Case

January 23, 2013

In recent years, many mutual insurance companies, which are owned by their policy holders, have converted to corporations owned by stockholders. In the conversion process, known as demutualization, these companies issued shares of stock to their policyholders. The IRS has taken the position that these shares of stock had zero basis. According to that view, when the shares are sold, the entire proceeds must be reported as capital gain. Some taxpayers have challenged that view, arguing that they acquired these shares as a result of paying insurance premiums, so a portion of the insurance premiums should be considered basis for the shares. Last week, a United States District Court ruling in the Central District of California, Timothy D. Reuben v. United States, disagreed with other courts that have considered the question and held in favor of the IRS, finding that the shares had zero basis.

The courts have now taken three distinct approaches to this issue. The Fisher case applied the open transaction doctrine, so that no gain would be recognized on a sale of the shares. The Dorrance case refused to apply the open transaction doctrine but found that the shares have basis. The Reuben case completes the sandwich, finding that the shares have zero basis.

Demutualization Soup: Another Ruling

July 25, 2012
By Kaye A. Thomas

Nearly four years after the first ruling in a demutualization case we have another one—and it’s inconsistent with the first one. At issue is the proper treatment of taxpayers who receive shares of stock when a mutual insurance company that issued policies to them converts into a regular corporation. The IRS has long taken the position that these shares have zero basis, so that when they are sold, the entire proceeds must be reported as capital gain. The Court of Federal Claims rejected that position in 2008, and in addition found that the open transaction doctrine applied, so that the selling shareholders would report zero gain on the sale.

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Life Insurance Loan Turns to Tax Debt

January 5, 2011

If you own a permanent life insurance policy (“whole life”), you may be able to borrow against the cash value. These loans are secured by your ownership interest in the policy, so they may carry a relatively low rate of interest. What’s more, generally you aren’t required to repay these loans according to a fixed schedule. Interest that accrues without being paid is simply added to the amount of your loan balance. If you don’t pay attention, though, you can end up with an unexpected tax bill. (more…)

Medicare Tax on Investments: First Look

June 16, 2010

Taxation of investments will undergo one of its most significant changes ever in 2013, when the Medicare tax is set to begin applying to investment earnings of higher-income individuals. Although this tax is years away, investors and their advisors need to be planning for it now as it will affect strategic decisions they make this year, including Roth conversions and capital gain realizations. Here’s a first look at the new tax. (more…)


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