Many employers provide employees with employer-paid group-term life insurance benefits or arrange for employees to purchase group term life insurance benefits. But did you know that in some cases, if an employer pays for more than a $50,000 life insurance benefit, there can be tax implications for the employee?
Must the cost of employer-provided group-term life insurance be included in an employee’s gross income?
Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 79, an employee may exclude up to $50,000 of employer- provided group-term life insurance from his or her income. This tax exclusion applies only to insurance on the life of the employee. It does not apply to insurance on the life of the employee’s spouse or dependent or other individual.
In addition, the employer may generally deduct the premiums it pays for the coverage as an ordinary and necessary business expense, so long as the employer is neither directly nor indirectly the beneficiary under the policy.
May the employer provide group-term life insurance for its employees in excess of $50,000?
Yes. However, the “cost” of the coverage in excess of $50,000 must be included in the employee’s gross income. “Cost” as used here does not refer to the premium paid by the employer but to the cost determined under the Uniform Premium Table contained in IRS regulations. The “cost” of the coverage added to an employee’s gross income is commonly referred to as “imputed income”.