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Archive for Hale Stewart

Deferred Compensation, Part VII: Profit-Sharing

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor, Tax Blog, Houston, Texas, USA, TaxConnections

Adding a profit-sharing component to your 401(k) plan can increase your contributions while also motivating employees.  All of the previously-discussed rules apply: you can’t have a top-heavy plan, you can’t discriminate in favor of certain employees, etc…

Here’s a general description of what’s involved from the code:

A profit-sharing plan is a plan established and maintained by an employer to provide for the participation in his profits by his employees or their beneficiaries. Read more

Deferred Compensation, Part VI: Minimum Participation Standards

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor, Tax Blog, Houston, TX, TaxConnections

In general, a plan cannot specifically require that employees work for the company at least 1 year or attain the minimum age of 21.  For large employers with several divisions, this can happen accidentally.

Here are two examples from the accompanying Treasury Regulations:

Example 1. Corporation A is divided into two divisions. In order to work in division 2 an employee must first have been employed in division 1 for 5 years. A plan provision which required division 2 employment for participation will be treated as a service requirement because such a provision has the effect of requiring 5 years of service. Read more

Deferred Compensation, Part IV: Non-Discrimination

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor, Houston, TX, TaxConnections

According to §401(a)(4), a deferred compensation plan cannot discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees (HCEs), which is a person who either owned 5% of the business at any time during the year or made more than $80,000 (inflation-adjusted) during the preceding year.

The regulations provide two safe-harbor tests for defined contribution plans (which comprise the vast bulk of 401ks).  Read more

Deferred Compensation, Pt. III: Non-Diversion Of Trust Assets

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor, Houston, TX, TaxConnections

In order for a deferred compensation trust to the “qualified,” it must comply with all of §401s specific requirements.  Complete compliance creates tax-deferred status.  §501 states (emphasis mine),

An organization described in subsection (c) or (d) or section 401(a) shall be exempt from taxation under this subtitle unless such exemption is denied under section 502 or 503.

One of 401’s most important requirements is that funds can only be used for the benefit of the employees.  §401(a)(2) states in relevant part, Read more

Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation: When Can You Make Distributions? (Part 2)

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

As I noted in my previous post, the NQDC statute specifically states there are six events when a NQDC plan can make a distribution, one of which is when the service provider “separates from service,” which is defined in the Treasury Regulations as:

An employee separates from service with the employer if the employee dies, retires, or otherwise has a termination of employment with the employer.

As with other aspects of this statute, there is little room for a liberal legal interpretation of the definition.

Read more

Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation: When Can You Make Distributions?

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

Section 409A contains a very strict set of times when a NQDC plan can make distributions. They are:

(i) separation from service as determined by the Secretary (except as provided in subparagraph (B)(i)),
(ii) the date the participant becomes disabled (within the meaning of subparagraph (C)),
(iii) death,
(iv) a specified time (or pursuant to a fixed schedule) specified under the plan at the date of the deferral of such compensation,
(v) to the extent provided by the Secretary, a change in the ownership or effective control of the corporation, or in the ownership of a substantial portion of the assets of the corporation, or (vi) the occurrence of an unforeseeable emergency. Death (iii) and a specified time (iv) are not legally debatable; they simply are. Read more

Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation: The “Substantial Risk of Forfeiture” Requirement

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

Income for tax purposes is defined in the broadest possible terms.  §61 states it as “income from whatever source derived.”[1]  The case law adds further clarification and detail. Glenshaw Glass defined income as “undeniable accessions to wealth, clearly defined, and over which the taxpayers have complete dominion.”[2]  The latter term is central to a properly structured non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan.  If the taxpayer has any control over the plan’s income, he will have to include the total income in his annual income.

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Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation: Additional Definitions

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

In this post, I’ll take a look at several more definitions related to non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans, beginning with the definition of “plan:”

“The term plan includes any agreement, method, program or other arrangement, including an agreement, method, program or other arrangement that applies to one person or individual.”[1]

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Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation: Timing and Constructive Receipt Issues

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

It’s doubtful that anybody in the Financial Services industry is unaware of qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs.  Knowledge of them is required to pass licensing exams and every firm includes them in sales literature. Non-qualified plans (NQDC), however, are less well-known, largely because they are more complex and appeal to a far smaller group of potential buyers.  Although their application is narrower, in the right circumstances NQDC’s can provide clients with tremendous advantages.

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Should You Still Use a Foreign Asset Protection Trust? Maybe – A Very Qualified Maybe

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

Over the last few months, I’ve documented a series of cases where courts forced grantors of a foreign asset protection trusts to disgorge assets despite placing this fund into a “bulletproof” offshore structure. Those who continue using FAPTs offer the following rebuttals to the case law.Over the last few months, I’ve documented a series of cases where courts forced grantors of a foreign asset protection trusts to disgorge assets despite placing this fund into a “bulletproof” offshore structure. Those who continue using FAPTs offer the following rebuttals to the case law.

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A Brief Overview of the Judicial Reasoning That Has Thwarted Foreign Asset Protection Trusts

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

As I have documented previously, there are several cases where courts have ruled against the grantors of a foreign asset protection trust, thereby nullifying the asset protection benefit. In this post, I want to briefly sum up the judicial reasoning used by the courts to thwart these trusts.

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Another Nail In The Foreign Asset Protection Trust Structure

Hale Stewart, Tax Advisor

This is the fifth entry in my series on foreign asset protection trust failures. It shares a number of facts with the other cases. These are:

  • A less than savory character. Bilzerian was convicted of securities fraud.
  • A lengthy legal process. This August 2000 decision was the last in a series of hearings and trials that started in the early 1990s.
  • An offshore asset protection scheme: The taxpayer had a Cook Island trust.
  • Fraudulent Transfer issues: Bilzerian established and funded the trust during the trial.
  • The taxpayer argued the court couldn’t hold him in contempt because it was impossible to comply with the court’s disgorgement order.

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