IRS settles abusive insurance schemes

The IRS recently offered settlements to a select number of taxpayers involved in what are known as “micro-captive” insurance schemes.

Tax law generally allows businesses to create “captive” insurance companies to protect against certain risks. In abusive “micro-captive” structures, accountants or wealth planners convince owners of closely held entities to engage in schemes that actually lack the protections of real insurance.

Under IRS Notice 2016-66, taxpayers are mandated to disclose such transactions due to their potential for tax evasion. Almost 80 percent of taxpayers offered the settlement accepted the offer.

The offers were made after the IRS won three cases in U.S. Tax Court cases fighting such schemes.

Micro-captive schemes have been a major priority for IRS enforcement since 2014, and several active cases remain. Some will likely be settled and others will go to trial. The IRS plans to ramp up enforcement with teams auditing thousands of taxpayers.

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