PFIC + subpart F + GILTI rules = PPLI Opportunity
A lot of acronyms to swallow! Yes, the recently enacted U.S. tax reform legislation has been very unkind to those subject to these sections of the U.S. tax code. Our good friend Private Placement Life Insurance (PPLI) in combination with Expanded Worldwide Planning (EWP) can soften, and in some cases, eliminate these taxes. We will discuss each of these tax rules separately, but first some basics on how you can achieve this success.
Distributions from a properly structured PPLI policy are distributions from a life insurance policy. Like all policies, both U.S. and issued in other jurisdictions around the world, the distributions are subject to the tax code sections that apply to life insurance.
In the U.S. context one can withdraw all basis in the policy, which are the premiums paid, tax free, and take very low cost loans to withdraw the remaining funds. The costs of these loans is equivalent to an administrative charge, and is usually in the range of 25 bps. PPLI companies are most frequently found in Bermuda and Barbados, and have similar very friendly client access to the funds inside the policy.
The concept of a distribution is important, because a properly structured PPLI policy can hold many different types of assets, basically anything that can be hold by a trust company. More pointedly for our short blog, passive foreign investment company (PFIC) income and subpart F income can be structured inside a PPLI policy, and, therefore, shielded from tax.
It is not in the scope of this blog to discuss the technical tax aspects of these code sections, so we refer you to an excellent article by James Meadow CA, CPA (NC), LLM (US TAX), MBA published recently in Moodys Gartner Tax Law, “The US “Transition Tax” for 2017: More Sad News for Many US Citizens Residing Abroad,”
The article discusses tax from the standpoint of how it affects U.S. persons residing outside the U.S., but gives a very clear and cogent review of how PFIC holdings and those taxed under subpart F are treated under the new U.S. legislation.
The recent legislation has brought an increase in taxation for those who have subpart F income. Thus, we encourage those in this situation to explore using PPLI. Using PPLI to shield PFIC income has been used for many years.
Section 951A gives us GILTI
The new U.S. tax legislation gives us a new section of the tax code, Section 951A. For those who have an interest in a controlled foreign corporations (CFC), particularly if they are not C corporation shareholders, there is a new opportunity to use a PPLI structure to shield this income from tax. Section 951A gives us global intangible low-taxed income (GILTI), which if held in other than a C corporation, has very unfavorable tax consequences that can be greatly mitigated by using PPLI.
We use the concept of Expanded Worldwide Planning (EWP) that allows income with unfavorable tax consequences to be reclassified as a distribution from a properly structured PPLI policy.
Your suggestions, comments, and questions are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your continued trust and support.