Insight

Tax Consequences of Employer Provided Life Insurance

Tax Consequences of Employer Provided Life Insurance | business consulting and accounting services in baltimore county | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Employer-provided life insurance is a coveted fringe benefit. However, if group term life insurance is part of your benefit package, and the coverage is higher than $50,000, there may be undesirable income tax implications.

Tax on Income you don’t Receive

The first $50,000 of group term life insurance coverage that your employer provides is excluded from taxable income and doesn’t add anything to your income tax bill. But the employer-paid cost of group term coverage in excess of $50,000 is taxable income to you. It’s included in the taxable wages reported on your Form W-2 — even though you never actually receive it. In other words, it’s “phantom income.”

What’s worse, the cost of group term insurance must be determined under a table prepared by the IRS even if the employer’s actual cost is less than the cost figured under the table. With these determinations, the amount of taxable phantom income attributed to an older employee is often higher than the premium the employee would pay for comparable coverage under an individual term policy. This tax trap gets worse as an employee gets older and as the amount of his or her compensation increases.

Your W-2 has Answers

What should you do if you think the tax cost of employer-provided group term life insurance is higher than you’d like? First, you should establish if this is actually the case. If a specific dollar amount appears in Box 12 of your Form W-2 (with code “C”), that dollar amount represents your employer’s cost of providing you with group term life insurance coverage in excess of $50,000, less any amount you paid for the coverage. You’re responsible for federal, state and local taxes on the amount that appears in Box 12 and for the associated Social Security and Medicare taxes as well.

But keep in mind that the amount in Box 12 is already included as part of your total “Wages, tips and other compensation” in Box 1 of the W-2, and it’s the Box 1 amount that’s reported on your tax return

Possible Options

If you decide that the tax cost is too high for the benefit you’re getting in return, find out whether your employer has a “carve-out” plan (a plan that carves out selected employees from group term coverage) or, if not, whether it would be willing to create one. There are different types of carve-out plans that employers can offer to their employees.

For example, the employer can continue to provide $50,000 of group term insurance (since there’s no tax cost for the first $50,000 of coverage). Then, the employer can either provide the employee with an individual policy for the balance of the coverage, or give the employee the amount the employer would have spent for the excess coverage as a cash bonus that the employee can use to pay the premiums on an individual policy.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to call our offices for additional information and to speak to your representative about group term coverage or whether it’s adding to your tax bill.

 

© 2021

 

Related Insights

Providing fringe benefits to employees with no tax strings attached | tax accountants in baltimore city | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Tax Prep, Planning & Strategy

Providing fringe benefits to employees with no tax strings attached

Businesses can provide benefits to employees that don’t cost them much or anything at all. However, in some cases, employees may have to pay…
How inflation will affect your 2022 and 2023 tax bills | accountant in washington dc | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Tax Prep, Planning & Strategy

How inflation will affect your 2022 and 2023 tax bills

The effects of inflation are all around. You’re probably paying more for gas, food, health care and other expenses than you were last year.…
Worried about an IRS audit? Prepare in advance | business consulting and accounting services in elkton | Weyrich, Cronin & Sorra

Tax Prep, Planning & Strategy

Worried about an IRS audit? Prepare in advance

IRS audit rates are historically low, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report , but that’s little consolation…

Connect with us

Use the form below to send us an email. WCS responds directly to all inquiries and general questions within 24 hours of posting.

This contact form is deactivated because you refused to accept Google reCaptcha service which is necessary to validate any messages sent by the form.