Insurance & Employee Benefits
Many business owners would agree that their company’s most valuable asset is its people, particularly key executives who provide leadership, specialized knowledge and skills which contribute significantly to the bottom line.
An executive bonus plan (Section 162) using life insurance is a means to provide additional supplemental benefits to the company’s key executives. Whole or universal life insurance can be provided as a benefit to select executives, and is a useful, tax-
In order to claim a deduction, Section 162 requires the the bonus must be:
Executive bonus plans benefit your key executives or employees by helping them feel valued and appreciated. If the executive bonus is used to purchase life insurance, it can also offer more tangible benefits, by:
Executive bonus plans usually include life insurance policy death benefits, as well as cash value accumulations that can be used as a retirement income supplement.
Using the Section 162 executive bonus plan, the company simply provides a bonus to the insured. The bonus is, of course, taxable as income to the insured, but it is tax deductible to the company. The death benefit retains its tax-
The IRS has deemed that if life insurance premiums are deducted as a business expense, the death benefit becomes taxable.
Generally, it’s possible to withdraw limited amounts of cash from a life insurance policy. The amount available differs based on the type of policy and the company issuing it. The main advantage of cash-
Executive bonus plans are usually easy to implement. Instead of the company paying the premium, the company provides the key executive with a bonus that is considered taxable as income. The bonus is a form of compensation to the executive/employee, and it is tax deductible to the company. This can be done selectively for the employee(s) of the company’s choosing.
Executive bonus plans often come with favorable loan provisions.
The executive maintains a high level of control because the policy is owned by him or her. The company sets the budget and lets the executive select the life insurance plan. Any tax due on the bonus can be covered by an additional bonus from the company (see “Plan Variations” below. ) The key executive selects the beneficiary and allocation of the assets. The executive chooses when to make retirement withdrawals. One strategy the employee might use is to select a dividend-
Executive Bonus Plan Variations
Double bonus arrangement. The key executive is provided with a bonus large enough to pay the life insurance premiums as well as the income taxes incurred.
Controlled executive bonus. The company and the executive enter into a vesting schedule agreement on the policy’s cash-
While an executive bonus plan can be a viable key employee retention strategy, there are other factors to cnosider:
A comprehensive benefits package is among the most important factors for keeping and attracting top talent, according to a study from the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services research unit. “If your best executives and employees are feeling like you are taking care of them, they are going to be more engaged and loyal,” Alex Clemente, managing director of HBR Analytic Services, tells BusinessNewsDaily. While small businesses might not be able to afford all of the costs associated with large scale benefit plans, which often include life insurance and and even local gym memberships, Clemente says being able to offer some of them selectively is a plus. (d)
(a)Source: IRC Section 162