Reportable Transactions- Help from the Experts

The IRS might be ready to levy a $50,000 tax penalty on your business for not properly reporting certain transactions to the IRS.

Learn more from the leading experts on IRS Reportable Transactions, Listed Transactions, code Sec 79 plans and other retirement & benefit plans for which the IRS is assessing large penalties for not filing the required IRS reporting forms by visiting our blog and website

http://www.reportabletransactions.blogspot.com

http://www.reportabletransactions.com


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.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, 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.

Don’t Become a ‘Material Advisor’


Accounting Today

 July 1, 2011

By Lance Wallach

Accountants, insurance professionals and others need to be careful that they don’t become what the IRS calls material advisors.
If they sell or give advice, or sign tax returns for abusive, listed or similar plans; they risk a minimum $100,000 fine. They will then probably be sued by their client, when the IRS finishes with their client
In 2010, the IRS raided the offices of Benistar in Simsbury, Conn., and seized the retirement benefit plan administration firm’s files and records. In McGehee Family Clinic, the Tax Court ruled that a clinic and shareholder’s investment in an employee benefit plan marketed under the name “Benistar” was a listed transaction because it was substantially similar to the transaction described in Notice 95-34 (1995-1 C.B. 309). This is at least the second case in which the court has ruled against the Benistar welfare benefit plan, by denominating it a listed transaction.
The McGehee Family Clinic 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 assessed tax deficiencies and the enhanced 30 percent penalty under Section 6662A, 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.
In rendering its decision, the court cited Curcio v. Commissioner, in which the court also ruled in favor of the IRS. As noted in Curcio, the insurance policies, which were 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. The excessive cost of providing death benefits was a reason for the court’s finding in Curcio that tax deductions had been properly disallowed.
As in Curcio, the McGehee court held that the contributions to Benistar were not deductible under Section 162(a) because the 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 lapse.
Companies should carefully evaluate their proposed investments in plans such as the Benistar Plan. The claimed deductions will be disallowed, and penalties will be assessed for lack of disclosure if the investment is similar to the investments described in Notice 95-34, that is, if the transaction is a listed transaction and Form 8886 is either not filed at all or is not properly filed. The penalties, though perhaps not as severe, are also imposed for reportable transactions, which are defined as transactions having the potential for tax avoidance or evasion.
Insurance agents have been selling such abusive plans since the 1990's. They started as 419A(F)(6) plans and abusive 412i plans. The IRS went after them. They then evolved to single-employer 419(e) plans, which the IRS also went after. The latest scams may be the so-called captive insurance plan and the so called Section 79 plan.
While captive insurance plans are legitimate for large corporations, they are usually not legitimate for small business owners as a way to obtain a tax deduction. I have not yet seen a legitimate Section 79 plan. Recently, I have sent some of the plan promoters’ materials over to my IRS contacts, who were very interested in receiving them. Some of my associates are already trying to help defend some unsuspecting business owners who are being audited by the IRS with respect to these plans.
Similar, though perhaps not as abusive, plans fail after the IRS goes after them. Niche was one example. The company first marketed a 419A(F)(6) plan that the IRS audited. They then marketed a 419(e) plan that the IRS audited. Niche, insurance companies, agents, and many accountants were then sued after their clients lost their deductions, paid fines, interest, and penalties, and then paid huge fines for failure to file properly under 6707A. Niche then went out of business.
Millennium sold 419A(F)(6) plans and then 419(e) plans through insurance companies. They stupidly filed for a private letter ruling to the effect that they were not a listed transaction. They got exactly the opposite: a private letter ruling saying that they were a listed transaction. Then many participants were audited. The IRS disallowed the deductions, imposed penalties and interest, and then assessed large fines for not filing properly under Section 6707A. The result was lawsuits against agents, insurance companies and accountants. Millennium sought bankruptcy protection after a lot of lawsuits.
I have been an expert witness in a lot of the lawsuits in these 419, 412i, etc., plans, and my side has never lost a case. I have received thousands of phone calls over the years from business owners, accountants, angry plan promoters, insurance agents, etc. In the 1990's, when I started writing for the AICPA and other publications warning about these abusive plans, most people laughed at me, especially the plan promoters.
In 2002, when I spoke at the annual national convention of the American Society of Pension Actuaries in Washington, people took notice. The IRS chief actuary Jim Holland also held a meeting, similar to mine on abusive 412i plans. Many IRS agents attended my meeting. I was also invited to IRS headquarters, at the request of the acting IRS commissioner, to meet with high-level IRS officials and Treasury officials to discuss 419 issues in depth, which I did after the meeting.
The IRS then set up task forces and started going after 419 and 412i plans. I have been warning accontants to properly file under 6707A to avoid the large fines, but most do not. Even if they file, if they  make a mistake on the forms the IRS fines. Very few accountants have had experience filing the forms, and the IRS instructions are difficult to follow. I only know of two people who have been successful in  properly filing the forms, especially after the fact. If the forms are filled out wrong they should be amended and corrected Most accountants call me a few years later when they and their clients get the large fines, either after improperly filling out the forms or not doing them at all, but then it is too late. If they don’t call me then, then they call me when their clients sue them.

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, lawallach@aol.com or visit www.vebaplan.com.


419 Life Insurance Plans and Other Scams – Large IRS Fines –


The IRS Raids Plan Promoter Benistar, and What Does All This Mean To You?

Articlebase

Posted: Dec. 9

By Lance Wallach

Recently IRS raided Benistar, which is also known as the Grist Mill Trust, the promoter and operator of one of the better known and more heavily scrutinized of the Section 419 life insurance plans. IRS attacked the Benistar 419 plan, and one of its tactics was to demand the names of all the clients Benistar worked with — so they could be audited by the IRS, Benistar refused to give the names and actually appealed the decision to turn over the names. The appeal was unsuccessful, but Benistar officials still refused to give up the names. Recently, the IRS raided the Benistar office and took hundreds of boxes of information, which included information on clients who were in their 419 plan. In documents filed by Benistar itself, they stated that 35 to 50 armed IRS agents descended upon their office to seize documents.
IRS has visited, and is still visiting most of the other plans and obtaining names of participants, selling insurance agents, accountants, etc. They have a whole task force devoted to auditing 419, 412i and other abusive plans.
It’s important to understand what could happen to unsuspecting business owners if they get involved in plans that are not above board. Their names could be turned over to the IRS, where audits could ensue, and where the outcome could be the payment of back taxes and significant penalties. Then they would be fined another time under Section 6707A for not properly reporting on themselves.
Most 419 life insurance and 412i defined benefit pension plans were sold to successful business owners as plans with large tax deductions where money would grow tax free until needed in retirement. I would speak at national accounting and other conventions talking about the problems with most of these plans. I would be attacked by some attendees who where making large insurance commissions selling the plans. I would try to warn insurance company home office executives, but they too had their heads in the sand because of all the money these plans brought in. Then the IRS got tough and started fining the unsuspecting business owners hundreds of thousands a year for not reporting on themselves for being in the plan. The agents and insurance companies advise against filing. “This is a good plan. We have approval.” Not only were the business owners fined under IRS Code 6707A, but the insurance agents were also fined $100,000 for not reporting on themselves. Accountants who signed tax returns are even being fined 100,000 by IRS. Then the business owners sue the accountants, insurance agents, etc. I have been following these scenarios for a long time. In fact, I have been an expert witness in many of these cases, and my side has never lost.
Most promoters of 419 plans told clients that their plans complied with the laws and, therefore, were not listed tax transactions. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn’t care what a promoter of a tax-avoidance plan says; it makes its own determination and punishes those who don’t comply.

The McGehee Family Clinic, P.A. was recently hit with back taxes and a penalty under Code Sec. 666A in conjunction with a deduction to the Benistar 419 plan
 Dr. McGehee's clinic took a deduction for a 419 plan (the Benistar plan) back in 2005. Eventually, the McGhee Family Clinic was audited. After the audit, the doctor was told that the deduction would be disallowed and that back taxes were due. Additionally, Dr. McGehee was hit with a 20 percent accuracy-related penalty under Code Sec. 6662A. Finally, the tax court sustained the IRS's determination that McGehee was subject to the increased 30 percent penalty, because its return did not include a disclosure statement indicating its participation in the Benistar Trust. I think that in addition to the aforementioned fines, IRS will now fine him, both on a corporate and personal level, another $200,000 or more, under IRC 6707A, for not properly disclosing his participation in a listed transaction. There was a moratorium on those fines until June 2010, pending new legislation to reduce them. 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. So Dr. McGehee's fine would be a total of $300,000 per year for every year that he and his corporation were in the plan.
IRS also says the fine is not appealable. His fine would be in the million-dollar range and it would be in addition to the back taxes, interest, and penalties already discussed earlier in this paragraph.
Legislation just passed slightly reducing those fines, but you still have to properly file to start the Statute of Limitations running to avoid the fines. IRS is fining people who report on themselves, but make a mistake on the forms.  Now that the moratorium on the fines has passed, and so has the new legislation, IRS has aggressively moved to fine unsuspecting business owners hundreds of thousands. This is usually after they get audited, and sometimes reach agreement with IRS. Then another division or department of the IRS imposes a fine under 6707A. I am receiving a lot of phone calls from business owners who this is happening to. Unfortunately, some of these people already had called me. I warned them to properly file under 6707A. Either they did not believe me - it is unbelievable -  or their accountant or tax attorney filed incorrectly. Then they called again after being fined.
If you were involved with one of these abusive plans, there are steps that you can take to minimize IRS problems. With respect to filing under Section 6707A, I know the two best people in the country at filing after the fact, which is what you would be doing at this point, and still somehow avoiding the fine. It is an art that both learned through countless hours of research and numerous conversations with IRS personnel. Both have filed dozens of times for clients, after the fact, without the clients being fined. Either may well still be able to help you.
And the right accountant, one with the proper knowledge, experience, and Service contacts, can help with the other IRS problems as well. I recall a case where a CPA I knew and recommended was able to get $300,000 or so in liabilities reduced to three thousand dollars and change. Do not count on a result like this, but help is available.

It’s not worth it!
Stay away from 419 and similar plans like Section 79 plans. Be very careful with 412i plans. Avoid most captive insurance plans.
It’s getting closer to the end of the year. This is when every scammer known to man/woman comes out of the woodwork to sell some fly-by-night tax-deductible plan to clients. Sometimes they come in the form of an accountant, insurance agent-financial planner, or even an attorney. I see this in all of my expert witness cases and when I speak at conventions. I have seen this since the 1990s. I wanted to remind readers that, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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.

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.



Will Your Municipal Bond or Your Life Insurance Company Still Have Value Next Year?


Investor protection with municipal bonds is so spotty that there is potential for much mischief.

Disclosure, that bedrock of fair securities markets, is the heart of the problem facing municipal investors. Municipal issuers often don’t file the most basic reports outlining their operating results or material changes in their financial conditions.

Even though hospitals, cities and states that borrow money are required by their bond covenants to make such filings, nondisclosure among the nearly 60,000 issuers is common.

With the S.E.C. largely on the sidelines, disclosure enforcement in the municipal market is left to participants. Do you think they really want to police themselves very closely? That leaves individuals who trade the securities, the investors, and the dealers, to monitor the disclosure information. There is almost no penalty for not complying with those requirements. This is another disaster waiting to happen. If you own municipal bonds, you had better be careful. You may want to investigate www.financeexperts.org and select someone that knows what they are doing to assist you.

Do you have a life insurance or annuity policy? If so, you may be in trouble. The plummeting financial markets are dragging down the life insurance industry, which is an important component of the U.S. economy. Continuously escalating losses weaken the companies’ capital and eat away at investor confidence.

More than a dozen life insurers have been awaiting action on applications for aid from the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, and the industry is expecting an answer to its request for a bank-style bailout in the upcoming weeks. So far, the government hasn’t stated whether or not insurers qualify for the program.
Life insurers have undoubtedly been taking a beating in recent weeks. The Dow Jones Wilshire U.S. Life Insurance Index has fallen 82% since its May 2007 all time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 21% this year to date.

Several of the hardest-hit companies are century-old names that insure the lives of millions of Americans. Shares of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. are down 93% as of the close on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 from their 2008 high. MetLife Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. are both suffering as the value of their vast investment portfolios declines.

As the economy weakens, analysts say many insurers face losses can eat away at the capital cushions regulators require them to maintain. In addition, experts say the industry is going through its most chaotic period in recent history and it’s a pretty scary situation right now.
The consequences of a weakened life-insurance industry for the overall economy are significant because life insurers are among the biggest holders of the nation’s corporate debt. For example, if life insurers stop buying bonds, the capital markets may not fully recover. Their buying activity has already declined.

Wall Street analysts say another problem for some life insurers is obligations for variable annuities, a retirement-income product that often guarantees minimum withdrawals or investment returns. As stock markets plunge to new lows, life insurers need to set aside additional funds to show regulators they can meet their obligations, further crimping sparse capital.

Life insurers’ woes have come largely from investment grade corporate bonds, commercial real estate and mortgages, regulatory filings show. Many insurers ended 2008 with high levels of losses that, due to accounting rules, they haven’t had to record on their bottom lines.
Hartford Financial had $14.6 billion in unrealized losses at year’s end. In addition, Hartford Insurance, through its agents, sold life insurance policies that were part of a welfare benefit plan popularly known as Niche Marketing, which has long been under IRS attack and is almost certainly regarded by the Service as an abusive tax shelter and/or listed transaction. Prudential, the second-largest insurer by assets, had nearly $11.3 billion in unrealized losses, up $5.4 billion in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter.

Lance Wallach, the National Society of Accountants Speaker of the Year, speaks and writes extensively about retirement plans, Circular 230 problems and tax reduction strategies. He speaks at more than 40 conventions annually, writes for over 50 publications, is quoted regularly in the press, and has written numerous best-selling AICPA books, including Avoiding Circular 230 Malpractice Traps and Common Abusive Business Hot Spots. He does extensive expert witness work and has never lost a case. Contact him at 516.938.5007 or visit www.taxadvisorexperts.org.
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.