Sunday, October 4, 2009
Mr. [Orman] Wilson, the owner of 19 coin-operated car washes in Houston, says he relied on four advisers, including a [CPA], to set up a plan that received approval from the [IRS]. Then, in late 2007, the IRS found fault with the plan and assessed it $250,000--plus special penalties of $1.2 million. ... National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, an IRS employee charged with protecting taxpayers' rights, has said the fines 'have the effect of bankrupting middle-class families who had no intention of entering into a tax shelter.' ... All these plans were funded with cash-value life-insurance policies. ... And the owners relied on experts, who often received commissions, to help them through the maze of laws and certify that the plans were correct. ... Some affected taxpayers have filed lawsuits naming life insurers and advisers who sold and sponsored these plans, including American General Life Insurance Co., Indianapolis Life Insurance Co., Pacific Life Insurance Co., and Hartford Life & Annuity Insurance Co.", Laura Saunders at the WSJ, September 2009, link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125331489168624343.html.
This stinks. The IRS should levy these penalties on the plan designers. Of course, the IRS employees might want work in the insurance industry.