Ask the Experts!
The professionals at Advanced Underwriting Consultants (AUC) answer the tax and technical questions posed by producers. Here’s the question of the day.
Question: My client participates in a qualified plan, and it owns a policy insuring his life. What options might the client have for having the policy transferred to personal ownership?
Answer: That depends in part on what the plan document says. However, for most pension plans, the short answer is that he can buy it from the pension plan for its cash value (more technically, its PERC value), or, if he’s entitled to a distribution, take a taxable distribution of the policy.
Pension rules prohibit members of a family controlling 50% or more of the ownership of a business from buying a life insurance policy from the pension plan. However, Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 92-6 permits such an employee to purchase life insurance from the pension plan if the plan would have otherwise disposed of the policy.
Under PTE 92-6, as amended, the purchase price for the policy is its fair market value.
The IRS released Revenue Procedure 2005-25 saying the value of a life insurance contract sold or otherwise distributed from a qualified plan is the greater of its interpolated terminal reserve and its so-called PERC value.
Interpolated terminal reserve is the amount that the insurance company sets aside to fulfill its obligations under the policy. In general, the interpolated reserve value of a life insurance contract is similar to its surrender value.
The calculation of the PERC value is a relatively new idea. The Service set a safe harbor formula for determining the policy’s PERC value based on the aggregate of:
- aggregate premiums paid; plus
- any dividends, earnings or interest credited with respect to those premiums; minus
- any distributions made; and minus
- reasonable mortality charges and reasonable expense charges.
After purchasing the policy from the plan for its value, the participant would be free to re-configure policy ownership and beneficiary designation to meet his planning needs. Of course, such re-configuration might have gift or other tax implications that would need to be managed.
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