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Abusive Tax Shelters again on the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for the 2015 Filing Season


     By Lance Wallach, CLU, CHFC Abusive Tax Shelter, Listed Transaction, Reportable Transaction Expert Witness

PhoneCall Lance Wallach at (516) 938-5007


"The IRS is committed to stopping complex tax avoidance schemes and the people who create and sell them," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and we are warning everyone to watch out for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true.”
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 you do not necessarily have to make a contribution or claim a tax deduction to participate.

Compiled annually, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or hire people to help with their taxes.
Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shutdown scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.
The IRS recently added captive insurance to its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams for the 2015 filing season. That is not a list you want to be on. Translated, this means that the IRS is taking a heavy, hard look at captive insurance companies and the managers of captive insurance companies.

“In the abusive structure, unscrupulous promoters persuade closely held entities to participate in this scheme by assisting entities to create captive insurance companies onshore or offshore, drafting organizational documents and preparing initial filings to state insurance authorities and the IRS. The promoters assist with creating and 'selling' to the entities oftentimes poorly drafted 'insurance' binders and policies to cover ordinary business risks or esoteric, implausible risks for exorbitant 'premiums,' while maintaining their economical commercial coverage with traditional insurers.”

It is important for CPAs to understand two things: 1) while the IRS may first contact your client in the context of a promoter audit—don’t kid yourself—the bell tolls for your client as well. You need to treat the contact with the IRS with utmost seriousness, even if it’s initially just a third-party contact. 2) Don’t forget that even if your client is doing things properly, if the client is part of a larger risk pool of insured—and if one of the other members of that pool is not squared away—the entire pool is potentially in jeopardy, including your client.
CPAs and their clients should bear in mind that the stakes are high. If the IRS finds that the captive insurance company doesn’t pass muster, it means losing not only the premium deduction, but also incurring a 20 percent penalty, along with interest.

Taxpayers who previously adopted 419, 412i, captive insurance or Section 79 plans are in big trouble.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lance Wallach
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 does expert witness testimony and has never lost a case.

Copyright Lance Wallach, CLU, CHFC

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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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