IRS CODE 7702: Definition, Important & How It Works

IRS Code 7702, cash value life insurance
Image credit: HTRGR

Tax advantages are one of the benefits of life insurance for you and your family. In addition to a tax-free death benefit, the cash value of permanent life insurance grows tax-deferred and is never taxed as long as the policy is in force. The regulations governing how life insurance qualifies for tax benefits are defined in IRS section 7702 of the federal tax code. The government recently changes the laws governing IRS 7702 and it has been in the headlines recently. But, exactly, what did legislators do? It gets confusing quickly, but here’s a short explanation to help you grasp it better.

What Is IRS Code 7702

For tax purposes, 7702 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRS) defines life insurance contracts. This section of the code is intended to differentiate genuine insurance contracts from investment products that are advertised as insurance-like.

Beneficiaries of life insurance contracts typically receive tax-free death benefits. Tax-free growth is possible with cash value policies. The purpose of IRS code 7702 is to prevent tax-advantaged life insurance from being abused. It achieves so by requiring life insurance contracts to pass a two-part test.


Prior to the enactment of IRS code 7702, federal tax law adopted a very hands-off attitude to life insurance policy taxes. Any earnings accrued inside the policy during the policyholder’s lifetime were not taxed as income, and death benefits paid to life insurance beneficiaries were excluded from income tax.

While the government did not want to be viewed as punishing needy widows and children, issues occur when the system can be cheated. Such as when other types of investment accounts are off as life insurance products.

To counteract this, IRS code 7702 established a set of standards to ensure that only genuine life insurance policies, not investment vehicles posing as such, received favorable tax treatment.

What Are IRS Code 7702 Plans?

As previously stated, IRS code 7702 “plans” don’t actually plan at all. They are stand-alone cash-value life insurance plans offered by private companies. Some insurance agents may have referred to them as such to give the impression that they were enrolling in a qualified plan. On the other hand, IRS Code 7702 plans are not qualified and bear no resemblance to truly qualified plans like 401(k) plans. A key distinction is that 401(k) plans accept pretax contributions (unless it’s a Roth plan). Whereas 7702 programs only accept after-tax contributions. The cost of premiums paid to a 7702 plan cannot be deducted because the IRS considers them a personal expense rather than a retirement plan contribution. The cash value of these insurance policies grows tax-deferred, and policyholders can borrow money from them tax-free. This is true of any cash value policy, whether or not it is to as a 7702 plan.

A whole life policy, a universal life policy, a variable universal life policy, or an indexed universal life policy are all examples of 7702 plans. The amount of cash value that builds up inside a policy is on the type of insurance. The amount of premium paid into it over time. Variable plans have the potential for stronger long-term growth, but they can also lose value if markets fall. Indexed universal life plans are safer since the cash value of the policyholder is not decrease if the underlying financial benchmark index to which the policy performs poorly.

How are the IRS code 7702 Plan Changes?

The change in the minimum guaranteed cash value is the reason why individuals are concerned about the IRS code changes in the tax code. Until recently, whole life insurance’s cash value component was based on a variable rate with a floor of 4%. This floor enabled insurance firms to precisely evaluate policy costs. Allowing them to charge rates that prevented policies from becoming MECs.

These assurances have always been an honor, but last year, federal interest rates were at an all-time low, exposing a huge issue. The IRS Code 7702 changes still required insurance businesses to adhere to the tax code’s 4 percent floor. In other words, insurance companies were finding it increasingly difficult to meet their guarantees while still paying non-guaranteed payouts.

(It’s worth noting that the 4% floor is a gross percentage rate, not including policy costs.) Regardless of whether you’re looking at the Guaranteed or Non-Guaranteed component. All whole life insurance illustrations show NET cash values after costs.)

How Will IRS Code 7702 Changes Affect Your Insurance?

You’re unlikely to see much of a difference as the tax code amendments take effect. If you currently have a policy, your insurance company is still to fulfill the terms of your contract. Existing policies will be able to lock in the previously guaranteed rise. Though it’s unclear how this will affect non-guaranteed dividends.

There’s no better time than now to get a policy if you don’t have one yet or have been thinking about getting one. Because this adjustment may take some time to take effect, you may still be able to lock in cheaper premiums. However, for faster cash value accumulation, we still recommend maxing out your Paid-Up Additions.

Other changes are more difficult to forecast, and we prefer to avoid speculating. Just be aware that there will most likely be some industry disruption as these changes take effect. The most essential message is to concentrate on what you can manage and rest comfortably, in the long run. These new laws will increase the industry’s overall certainty.

Why Are IRS Code 7702 Changes Important?

Section 7702 is significant because it specifies which forms of cash-value life insurance plans are eligible for tax benefits. If a life insurance policy does not meet the standards outlined in this section of the Internal Revenue Code, The recipient will receive both the growth of the cash value inside the policy and the death benefit. Because the majority of life insurance policies today fit the conditions of this code, Policyholders rarely have to worry about this.

The Internal Revenue Code’s Section 7702 was in reaction to the increasing number of people who were using cash-value life insurance as a tax shelter. Many policies issued prior to 1985 had a lot of room for an increase in their cash value component. The IRS tried to prohibit that by enacting IRS code 7702 changes. Since 1985, there have been certain limits on life insurance cash values that must be in order to maintain their tax status.

How Is a 7702 Plan Different from a Retirement Plan?

A cash-value life insurance policy, also known as a 7702 plan, is one that has a cash value in addition to the death benefit. When you put premiums into these types of plans, some of the money goes toward the death benefit and some go toward the cash value.

One of the main reasons why someone might want to think twice about investing in a cash-value life insurance policy is that these policies might have high management costs, mortality and expense charges, and administrative expenses that include agent commissions. These charges can sometimes amount to 130 percent to 150 percent of the first year’s premium. Which some may consider an excessive price for the investment.

Qualified retirement plans, such as a 401(k) via your company, on the other hand, typically do not require you to pay a commission to enroll in the plan. However, this does not negate the fact that a 401(k) or other qualifying retirement plans, such as a Roth account, have costs. You should always read the details of any retirement plan you are considering to ensure that you are aware of the costs.

Why Do Taxes Treat Permanent Life Insurance Contracts in a Good Way?

When compared to other forms of insurance, why do permanent life insurance contracts receive preferential tax treatment?

Life insurance policies are structured to pay out a death benefit to the policyholder’s loved ones. Permanent life insurance policies, such as whole or universal life, build cash worth that the insured can access while they are still alive or use as collateral for loans. These contracts are exempt from some taxes since they are considered insurance rather than investments. For instance, a policy loan is not subject to taxation.

What is a MEC (Modified Endowment Contract)?

According to Internal Revenue Code Section 7702a, a permanent life insurance policy is “overfunded” if its cash value exceeds the size of its death benefit. Such a policy is known as a modified endowment contract (MEC). The Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988 (TAMRA) includes rules requiring a “seven-pay test,” which states that the sum of all premium payments made into the insurance must not exceed the sum needed to fully pay off the policy within seven years.

When an insurance policy is designated as a MEC, it loses its tax advantages and cannot be converted back to non-MEC coverage.

Requirements of IRS 7702 Changes

Contracts for life insurance must satisfy either the cash value accumulation test (CVAT) or the guideline premium and corridor test (GPT).

#1. Cash Value Accumulation Test

The contract’s cash surrender value “may not at any time exceed the net single premium which would have to be at such time to finance future benefits under the contract,” according to the cash value accumulation test.

That implies the amount a policyholder can get out of the policy if they cancel it (commonly referred to as the “savings” component of cash value life insurance) can’t be more than the amount the policyholder would have paid in a single lump sum, excluding any fees.

#2. Guideline Premium and Corridor Test

“The sum of the premiums paid under such a contract does not at any time exceed the guideline premium limitation as of such time,” says the guideline premium and corridor test. This means the policyholder could not put more into the policy than was necessary to cover the insurance benefits.

If a life insurance policy fails to meet either of these requirements, the contract’s revenue is considered ordinary income for that year and taxed accordingly, according to Section 7702(g). In other words, the contract’s owner will no longer benefit from the tax advantages of a true life insurance policy.

How Do I Use the Tax Code 7702?

Income from a real insurance product is treated differently than income from an investment vehicle under Tax Code section 7702, which establishes this distinction. There are various kinds of permanent life insurance that can accumulate cash value over the course of their coverage. The government gives preferential tax treatment to the payout that is received from a genuine life insurance policy.

Is 7702 Worth it?

Regrettably, there is no single, correct response to this question. Everything hinges on the objectives you have set for yourself with the 7702 strategies. You can reduce the amount of tax money you owe and either withdraw the money and utilize it for other reasons or keep it for the benefit of your beneficiaries. Be mindful, though, that these 7702 plans can end up costing you a significant amount of money.

Do You Ever Stop Paying for Whole Life Insurance?

The majority of whole life insurance pays out their benefits at age 100. When a policyholder outlives the policy, the insurance company may end the policy after paying out the full cash value to the policyholder (which, in this instance, equals the coverage amount). Some companies will offer the policyholder an extension on their coverage as long as they continue to pay their rates until they pass away.

How Do Rich People Use Life Insurance?

Life insurance can be used by high earners and rich persons to pay the estate taxes that are associated with a significant inheritance. If you’ve already contributed the maximum allowed to your standard investment accounts, cash value life insurance can provide you with another tax-deferred investment account option. Permanent life insurance and life insurance trusts are both tools that can be utilized to help you make the most of your assets.

Do You Still Need Life Insurance After 65?

It’s possible that you won’t need life insurance if you retire and find that you don’t have any trouble paying your bills or making ends meet. Maintaining life insurance coverage is recommended if you enter retirement with outstanding debt, have financially dependent children or a spouse, or both. In addition, life insurance can be kept following retirement in order to assist in the payment of estate taxes.

Cash Value Life Insurance

Cash-value life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance that includes a cash value savings component. It lasts for the rest of the policyholder’s life. The cash value of insurance can be used for a variety of things, including obtaining loans or cash. As well as paying policy premiums.

How Cash Value Life Insurance Works

Because it covers the policyholder’s entire life, cash value insurance is called perpetual life insurance. Because of the cash value component, cash-value life insurance has traditionally had higher rates than term life insurance. A fixed-level premium payment is required for most cash-value life insurance policies. With a portion of the payment going toward the cost of insurance and the rest going into a cash-value account.

The cash value of life insurance generates a low rate of interest, and the accumulated earnings are tax-deferred. As a result, life insurance’s cash value will rise over time. Because the accumulated cash value covers some of the insurer’s liability. The insurance company’s risk diminishes as the life insurance cash value grows.

Tips for Purchasing Cash Value Life Insurance

Take the time to compare life insurance companies if you’re purchasing cash value life insurance. First, consider their general reputation, then look into policy possibilities. Consider the minimum and maximum coverage limits. The different types of cash value policies available, and how much you might pay in premiums. Online life insurance quotes are extremely simple to obtain.

Before you sign the contract after you’ve applied for a policy, make sure you know what you’re getting. It’s rare to come across a cash value policy that doesn’t follow the 7702 requirements, but it does happen. As a result, make sure to inquire about the test the insurance company used to guarantee that the contract they wish to provide you follows IRS requirements. If an insurance provider refuses to provide that information. It may be a warning that you should look for coverage elsewhere.


What reasons will life insurance not pay?

The life insurance company may refuse to reimburse you if you die while committing a crime or engaging in criminal activities.

Does beneficiary receive cash value?

This death benefit is equal to the cash value of your policy plus the death benefit you were given when you bought it. In this situation, your beneficiary receives the monetary value.

What happens if someone dies shortly after getting life insurance?

If a policyholder dies soon after purchasing life insurance, the insurance company has additional leeway in contesting or denying the claim of the beneficiary.

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