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The professionals at Advanced Underwriting Consultants (AUC) answer the tax and technical questions posed by producers. Here’s the question of the day.
Question: I have a customer who purchased a participating whole life policy several years ago. The policy owner has chosen to have the policy dividends buy paid-up additions (PUAs). Do the dividends used to buy PUAs increase the client’s basis in the contract?
Answer: Dividends used to buy PUAs have no net effect on basis.
Code Section 72(e) deals with this question, although the words don’t address the issue directly. There are two possible ways of looking at dividends buying PUAs, both of which lead to the conclusion that there is no net effect on basis.
On the one hand, dividends buying PUAs may be looked at as money that never has left the insurance policy itself. Therefore, there is no increase or reduction in the owner’s basis in the policy—as the transaction is completely internal to the policy itself.
The other possible way of interpreting the Code Section is that a dividend, when declared, reduces the policy owner’s basis in the life contract. When the policy owner uses the dividend to buy PUAs, the basis in the contract is increased by a like amount. Thus, there is no net effect on basis.
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