Thursday, March 2, 2023
Gómez: Too Good To Be True—Private Placement Life Insurance Policies
Luís Calderón Gómez (Cardozo; Google Scholar), Too Good to Be True: Private Placement Life Insurance Policies, 178 Tax Notes Fed. 555 (Jan. 23, 2023):
In this article, Calderón Gómez examines a tax avoidance scheme involving private placement life insurance policies — large policies that potentially allow wealthy taxpayers to move their traditionally tax-inefficient investments in private equity and hedge funds into a life insurance policy and accumulate, borrow against, and pass on those investment gains effectively tax free — and sketches some possible alternatives to stop the abuse of these policies.
PPLI policies seem like they are here to stay. While the government appears to have caught on to the rampant abuse of these instruments by ultra-high-net-worth individuals, congressional investigations and one-off fines are unlikely to stem their abuse. A legislative fix, while plausibly optimal from a policy perspective, is unlikely in a divided Congress. That, however, does not mean that the government is out of luck. The IRS has several tools at its disposal, such as revoking unduly lenient rulings that have unintentionally facilitated the abuse of PPLI and engaging in strategic litigation.