Life insurance sales: Section 162 executive bonus plansArticle added by Dan Viñal on April 5, 2011
Dan Vinal

Dan Viñal

Joined: May 02, 2007

There's a big opportunity in showing small business corporations how to use tax deductible corporate dollars to fund tax free retirement income for only the business owner himself — and if they choose, a few of their key people as well.

​Are you selling to small business corporations?

There's a big market for life insurance sales to small business owners with C corporation status or LLCs filing as C corporations. It's showing them how to use tax deductible corporate dollars to fund tax free retirement income for only the business owner himself — and if they choose, a few of their key people as well.

Many small companies have set up 401(k) plans for all their employees. But the top-heavy rules strictly limit how much the highly-compensated employees can contribute, based on what the non highly-compensated employees contribute.

So most of these companies can afford and want to contribute more than these plans allow for the benefit of their highly compensated executives — even if it's only the owner.

And since 401(k) plans have become the predominant qualified retirement plan for companies of all sizes, the market is relatively vast and untapped.

But these sales are not complicated, dependent on legal documentation, or subject to ERISA. In fact, they're quite simple and can be installed very easily.

They're known as 162 bonus plans, referencing section 162 of the Internal Revenue Code, which essentially stipulates that bonus compensation is tax deductible as a business expense and that any such bonus compensation can be selective and discriminatory. This means that it can be paid only to otherwise highly compensated employees (i.e., executives). That's why they are often referred to as executive bonus plans.

How it works:

The owner or executive owns the policy, but the corporation funds it with a tax deductible bonus paid directly into the contract annually or quarterly, and that bonus money is taxable to the executive for the year in which it goes into the contract. However, 100 percent of the growth on that money every year thereafter, and 100 percent of the money withdrawn during retirement can all be tax free.

In other words, the owner or executive only pays tax on the money going in, but not on any of the money coming out, which can be two or even three times as much. That's why it makes sense.

Taxation on the bonus is a relatively small concession to accept in exchange for not needing to include all the other employees and for the ability to withdraw all the growth tax free.

Life insurance sales with equity index universal life

Executive bonus plans perform best using equity index universal life policies (with favorable loan provisions) for obvious reasons:
  • An index like the S&P 500 can simulate a 401(k) portfolio, but without any market losses
  • Cash value loan provisions under code section 7702 enable tax free retirement income
  • The insurance contract itself is all that is needed to provide the benefits
  • These contracts are inherently adjustable and can be easily modified from year to year
  • Plan design can be customized for each executive with various riders

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