Section 79 plans: What advisors need to know

By Jason Kestler

Kestler Financial Group, Inc.


As I've mentioned before, there are some unique opportunities in the business market where we can actually pay for personal life insurance coverage as a deductible business expense and address retirement planning concerns at the same time.

Lions and tigers and bears. While there may not be wild animals stalking us in this business, there are a number of niches that we need to keep an eye on to do the best for our clients. Sometimes the complexity of those niches makes us say, "Oh my!" or perhaps something a bit stronger.

The business market is, or can be, one of those niches. Staying on top of the various types of business entities, the planning opportunities they represent and which may be the right fit is a daunting task if you try and go it alone.

As I've mentioned before, there are some unique opportunities in the business market where we can actually pay for personal life insurance coverage as a deductible business expense and address retirement planning concerns at the same time. So this year, when your business owner clients are griping about taxes and are close to maxing out their qualified plan contributions by June, toss them this idea:
  • A current tax deduction

  • Tax deferred growth

  • Tax-free income on distributions
Sound an awful lot like a combination of a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA? How about a supercharged Roth IRA? Too good to be true? It may seem so, but it is an insurance plan that has been around for years — Section 79.

Why aren't you hearing more about it? Because only a couple carriers actually offer products in this market.

Ready for more good news? How about an easy set-up (as short as two weeks from start to finish) and an average target premium of almost $100,000.

The other critical aspect of these plans is the planning opportunity they represent. The current tax benefits and retirement income are great, but what else can we do with these? How about estate planning? Death benefits can be structured so that they are outside the taxable estate while the client maintains access to the cash values for retirement income.

If you are asking yourself, "What about taxation at the personal level? Won't my client have to pay taxes on the premiums being paid by the business?" You are not alone. The answer is yes and no.

The real advantage of the Section 79 plan regarding personal taxation is the discount that the employee/owner receives on their personal taxes. For instance, rather than paying on the full amount as they would with a Section 162 bonus plan, they are only taxed on a percentage of the premium. The result is significant savings.