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Proposed Regulations on Reporting Life Insurance Policy Sales and Death Benefit Payments


Lisa Varela
Proposed Regulations on Reporting Life Insurance Policy Sales and Death Benefit Payments

The IRS has issued proposed regulations on the information reporting requirements under Code Secs. 101(a)(3) and 6050Y, added by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97). The regulations are to apply to reportable life insurance policy sales made, and reportable death benefits paid, after December 31, 2017. Transition relief applies until these regulations are finalized.

Reportable Sales and Payments

New reporting requirements apply to reportable policy sales and payments of reportable death benefits occurring after December 31, 2017.

New Code Sec. 6050Y imposes information reporting obligations related to certain life insurance contract transactions, including reportable policy sales and payments of reportable death benefits. The proposed regulations specify how and when the information reporting obligations must be satisfied. They also provide definitions and rules governing the application of the information reporting obligations.

New Code Sec. 101(a)(3) defines “reportable policy sale” and provides rules for determining the amount of death benefits excluded from gross income following a reportable policy sale. The proposed regulations provide definitions and guidance for determining the amount of death benefits excluded.

Proposed Regulations

The proposed regulations respond to comments generated by the IRS’s pre-regulatory guidance in Notice 2018-41, I.R.B. 2018-20, 584, and provide clarifications.

Payments. The proposed regulations clarify that a reportable policy sale payment includes any amount of the recipient’s debt assumed by the acquirer in addition to cash and the fair market value of property. They also clarify that when an acquirer makes installments payments in more than one year, the acquirer reports the total amount of all payments in the year of the policy sale. The Treasury Department and the IRS are considering whether reportable policy sale payments should be defined to exclude payments of any ancillary costs and expenses. Comments are requested regarding the types of payments made by acquirers in reportable policy sales, the recipients of those payments, and existing reporting requirements applicable to those payments.

Reportable death benefits. Reporting requirements apply to any person that makes a payment of reportable death benefits during any tax year. The proposed regulations clarify that the amounts must be attributable to an interest in the life insurance contract that was transferred in a reportable policy sale. For instance, if the original policyholder of a life insurance contract transfers a 50 percent interest in the life insurance contract in a reportable policy sale, amounts paid due to the death of the insured that are attributable to the 50 percent interest retained by the original policyholder are not reportable death benefits.

Comments are requested as to whether reportable death benefits payment recipients should include, in addition to any person that receives reportable death benefits as a beneficiary under the life insurance contract, any person that receives reportable death benefits as the holder of an interest in the life insurance contract.

Payor. The proposed regulations define “payor” to mean any person making a payment of reportable death benefits, and “reportable death benefits payment recipient” to mean any person that receives reportable death benefits as a beneficiary under the life insurance contract or as the holder of an interest in the life insurance contract. However, comments are sought on whether “payor” should be defined the same as “issue,” or should also include any holder of an interest in a life insurance contract that receives reportable death benefits attributable to that interest and is contractually obligated to pay part or all of the proceeds to the beneficial owner of the interest.

Unified reporting. The proposed regulations allow for unified reporting by the acquirers in a series of prearranged transfers of any interest in a life insurance contract. A series of prearranged transfers of an interest in a life insurance contract may include transfers in which one or more persons serve as intermediaries. Such intermediaries may acquire title or possession of an interest in a life insurance contract for state law purposes as nominee on behalf of another person or persons.

Deadlines. The proposed regulations provide that an acquirer must furnish any written statement required to be provided to a reportable policy sale payment recipient no later than February 15 of the year following the calendar year in which the reportable policy sale occurs. The proposed regulations adopt this deadline because a person may be both a reportable policy sale payment recipient and a seller regarding a reportable policy sale, and the deadline for an acquirer to furnish a written statement to a reportable policy sale payment recipient coordinates with the deadline for an issuer that receives a reportable policy sale statement (RPSS) to furnish a written statement to a seller. An acquirer must furnish an RPSS to the issuer by the later of (1) 20 days after the reportable policy sale, or (2) 5 days after the end of the applicable state law rescission period. However, if the later date is after January 15 of the year following the calendar year in which the reportable policy sale occurred, the RPSS must be furnished by January 15 of the year following the calendar year in which the reportable policy sale occurred.

A payor of reportable death benefits must furnish any written statement required to be provided to a reportable death benefits payment recipient no later than January 31 of the year following the calendar year in which the reportable policy sale occurs. The proposed regulations use January 31 because it is generally the deadline for furnishing copies of Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., to recipients.

Forms 1099-LS and 1099-SB. The proposed regulations provide guidance to sellers of life insurance contracts in reporting gain. IRS Form 1099-LS, Reportable Life Insurance Sales, and Form 1099-SB, Seller’s Investment in Life Insurance Contract, provide specific instructions on these reporting requirements. The proposed regulations also provide guidance to payors of reportable death benefits (reportable on Form 1099-R) and how to calculate the amount of death benefits excluded from gross income.

Transition Relief

Transition relief applies for reportable policy sales and payments of reportable death benefits occurring after December 31, 2017, and before the date final regulations are published in the Federal Register.

For reportable policy sales,

  • statements required to be furnished to issuers under Code Sec. 6050Y(a)(2) must be furnished by the later of the applicable deadline in the final regulations or 60 days after the date final regulations are published in the Federal Register;
  • returns required to be filed under Code Sec. 6050Y(a)(1) and (b)(1) and statements required to be furnished to payment recipients and sellers under Code Sec. 6050Y(a)(2) and (b)(2)must be filed or furnished by the later of the applicable deadline in the final regulations or 90 days after the date final regulations are published in the Federal Register;

For payments of reportable death benefits, returns required to be filed under Code Sec. 6050Y(c)(1) and statements required to be furnished to payment recipients under Code Sec. 6050Y(c)(2) must be filed or furnished by the later of the applicable deadline in the final regulations or 90 days after the date final regulations are published in the Federal Register.

Comments. The IRS is seeking comments on a range of issues connected with these proposed regulations. Written or electronic comments must be received by May 9, 2019. A public hearing has been scheduled for June 5, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., in the IRS Auditorium, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. Due to building security procedures, visitors must enter at the Constitution Avenue entrance. In addition, all visitors must present photo identification to enter the building. Because of access restrictions, visitors will not be admitted beyond the immediate entrance area more than 15 minutes before the hearing starts. For more information about having your name placed on the building access list to attend the hearing, see the “FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT” section of the preamble.