When setting up a life insurance policy designed for cash accumulation, a question that often comes up is, “Should I have my person own the policy or should I have my business on the policy?”
Today we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of each.
Before we get started, let’s address the elephant in the room. Should your premiums be paid with before tax dollars or after tax dollars? Basically, the question of, “Can I run the premiums through my business and take a tax deduction for it?” The answer is a big NO.
You cannot get a tax deduction for paying life insurance and understand why. Life insurance is not an expense. It’s an asset. You can’t expense an asset. And, if you do, you’re paying tax on the harvest instead of the seed.
You see, the premiums are the seed, the small amount that you’re paying today, and the harvest is the life insurance death benefit. And the last thing we want to do is expose several thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to taxes in the long run.
You see, one of the great advantages of owning life insurance is you could put in pennies, the premium, and get back dollars, the death benefit. That’s called leverage. And why would you want to counteract that leverage by having the dollars taxed? It doesn’t make sense.
Now that we got that out of the way, the question becomes, should you have the person on the policy or should you have the business on the policy?
The short answer is, either is fine and each situation is different. But, keep this in mind, whether or not your business should own the policy really comes down to what type of business entity are you? Are you a sole proprietorship? Are you an LLC, a partnership, a sub S corporation, or a C Corporation? The answer to that question, what type of business entity do you own, will dictate who should own the policy.
Now, in most cases, having the individual own the policy can accomplish what you want to accomplish when you’re capitalizing a whole life insurance policy for cash accumulation to help capitalize your business. But then again, there’s the question of what’s the purpose of the insurance? Is it for a stock redemption? Where the business is going to redeem a deceased shareholder’s equity in their business, or is it a cross purchase, or is it for key person reasons? There’s a variety of reasons why a business would want to get or own life insurance on one of its employees.
However, in most cases where the business owner wants to take loans from the policy and infuse that cash into their business using the policy loan provision. Even if the individual owns it, you could just add one extra step and it allows that individual to own and control that cash value rather than the entity.
Another question we often get is, is there any tax benefits to the business owning the policy versus the individual owning the policy? And to that, the answer is no. You see, there are no tax benefits that go to the business, if the business owns the policy. If the business does own the policy and the business is the beneficiary of the policy, that means the death benefit is paid to the business and that goes tax free from the insurance company to the business. But now you got an issue where the death benefit, the dollars, are tied up in the business. There’s only two ways you can get the money out of the business. One is to expense it, meaning pay expenses. And the second is to salary it, to pay somebody’s salary. Either way, they’re taxable events.
And the bigger question often becomes, who should be paying that premium? And to that, we see that often the business account has more cash flow running through it. And as long as the individual is owner of that entity, the business is able to make those premium payments and expense it to the individual.
So basically what that would look like is the business entity is going to pay the insurance company and then the business entity is going to bonus out that premium amount to the individual so it gets taxed. So, ultimately, the business paid the premium and was able to deduct it as salary to the executive or the owner. That’s all kosher from a tax perspective. The individual paid the premium but he didn’t have to write the check, he just paid the tax on the premium.
Now, let’s not forget about the tax benefits of whole life insurance policies in general. Although there are no added benefits for the business by the business owning the policy. There certainly are benefits associated for tax reasons with whole life insurance policy designed for cash accumulation.
First of all, we have tax deferred growth within the policy. After we pay tax on that premium, we’re able to grow that asset in a tax deferred environment. We also have tax favored access to policy loans on a guaranteed basis. We have tax favored benefits in retirement with access to the cash value, and then we have a tax free death benefit paid out to our named beneficiary outside of probate.
On top of all of that, you have additional tax benefits if you’re using the cash value to supplement your retirement income. If it’s done properly, you can avoid state income tax, federal income tax, Social Security offset tax, no increase in your Medicare premium. The death benefits pass outside of probate and in most states pass outside of state inheritance or estate taxes. And the death benefit, again passes tax free to the beneficiary.
If you’d like to learn more on exactly how to use a whole life insurance policy designed for cash accumulation for your individual or business situation, schedule your free strategy session today.
And remember, it’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money you keep that really matters.