Life insurance is used for two general purposes in a private corporation – managing risk and creating opportunities. The risk management function is satisfied as life insurance provides the corporation with a tax-free payment in the event of the death of an owner or someone vital to the success of the business. As life insurance also allows for the tax-sheltered build up of cash value additional planning opportunities are additionally created.
The primary needs for corporate owned life insurance to satisfy the risk management purpose are as follows:
Key Person Life Insurance
Any prudent business would insure its company facilities and equipment that is used in creating revenue. It follows then that the business should also insure the lives of the people that run the company and make the decisions which contribute to its profit. Any owner, manager or employee whose death would impair the future growth and success of the company is a key person and should be insured as such. Read more
If you are an active investor, your investment holdings probably include many different asset classes. For many investors, diversification is a very important part of the wealth accumulation process to help manage risk and reduce volatility. Your investment portfolio might include stocks, bonds, equity funds, real estate and commodities. All these investment assets share a common characteristic – their yield is exposed to tax. From a taxation standpoint, investment assets fall into the following categories:
The income from these investments are taxed at the top rates. They include bonds, certificates of deposits, savings accounts, rents etc. Depending on the province, these investments may be taxed at rates of approximately 50% or more. (For example, Alberta 48.0%, BC 49.8%, Manitoba 50.4%, Ontario 53.53%, Nova Scotia 54.0%). Read more
Many business owners are unaware that corporate owned life insurance combined with the Capital Dividend Account (CDA) provides an opportunity to distribute corporate surplus on the death of a shareholder to the surviving shareholders or family members tax-free.
Income earned by a corporation and then distributed to a shareholder is subject to tax integration which results in the total tax paid between the two being approximately the same as if the shareholder earned the income directly. Integration also means that if a corporation is in receipt of funds which it received tax-free, then those funds should be tax free when distributed to the shareholder.
The Capital Dividend Account is a notional account which tracks these particular tax-free amounts accumulated by the corporation. It is not shown in accounting records or financial statements of the corporation. If there is a balance in the CDA it may be shown in the notes section of the financial statements for information purposes only.
Generally, the tax-free amounts referred to, are the non-taxable portions of capital gains received by the corporation and the death benefit proceeds of life insurance policies where the corporation is the beneficiary. Read more
If you have ever thought that life insurance was something you wouldn’t need after you reached a certain level of financial security, you might be interested in knowing why many wealthy individuals still carry large amounts of insurance. Consider the following:
- A life insurance advisor in California recently placed a $201 million dollar life insurance policy on the life of a tech industry billionaire;
- Well known music executive David Geffen was life insured for $100 million;
- Malcolm Forbes, owner of Forbes Magazine, was insured at the time of his death in 1990 for $70 million.
While life insurance is most often looked upon as a vehicle to protect ones family or business, the question that springs to mind is why would individuals with wealth need life insurance? Read more