26 CFR § 1.811-2 - Dividends to policyholders.

§ 1.811-2 Dividends to policyholders.

(a) Dividends to policyholders defined. Section 811(a) defines the term dividends to policyholders, for purposes of part I, subchapter L, chapter 1 of the Code, to mean dividends and similar distributions to policyholders in their capacity as such. The term includes amounts returned to policyholders where the amount is not fixed in the contract but depends on the experience of the company or the discretion of the management. In general, any payment not fixed in the contract which is made with respect to a participating contract (that is, a contract which during the taxable year contains a right to participate in the divisible surplus of the company) shall be treated as a dividend to policyholders. Similarly, any amount refunded or allowed as a rate credit with respect to either a participating or a nonparticipating contract shall be treated as a dividend to policyholders if such amount depends on the experience of the company. However, the term does not include interest paid (as defined in section 805(e) and paragraph (b) of § 1.805-8) or return premiums (as defined in section 809(c) and paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of § 1.809-4). Thus, so-called excess-interest dividends and amounts returned by one life insurance company to another in respect of reinsurance ceded shall not be treated as dividends to policyholders even though such amounts are not fixed in the contract but depend upon the experience of the company or the discretion of the management.

(b) Amount of deduction -

(1) In general. Section 811(b)(1) provides, subject to the limitation of section 809(f), that the deduction for dividends to policyholders for any taxable year shall be an amount equal to the dividends to policyholders paid during the taxable year:

(i) Increased by the excess of the amounts held as reserves for dividends to policyholders at the end of the taxable year for payment during the year following the taxable year, over the amounts held as reserves for dividends to policyholders at the end of the preceding taxable year for payment during the taxable year, or

(ii) Decreased by the excess of the amounts held as reserves for dividends to policyholders at the end of the preceding taxable year for payment during the taxable year, over the amounts held as reserves for dividends to policyholders at the end of the taxable year for payment during the year following the taxable year.

For the rule as to when dividends are considered paid, see section 561 and the regulations thereunder. For the determination of the amounts held as reserves for dividends to policyholders, see paragraph (c) of this section. For special provisions relating to the treatment of dividends to policyholders paid with respect to policies reinsured under modified coinsurance contracts, see section 820(c)(5) and the regulations thereunder.

(2) Certain amounts to be treated as net decreases. Section 811(b)(2) provides that if the amount determined under subparagraph (1)(ii) of this paragraph exceeds the dividends to policyholders paid during the taxable year, the amount of such excess shall be a net decrease referred to in section 809(c)(2).

(c) Reserves for dividends to policyholders defined -

(1) In general. The term reserves for dividends to policyholders, as used in section 811(b)(1) (A) and (B) and paragraph (b)(1) of this section, means only those amounts:

(i) Actually held, or set aside as provided in subparagraph (2) of this paragraph and thus treated as actually held, by the company at the end of the taxable year, and

(ii) With respect to which, at the end of the taxable year or, if set aside, within the period prescribed in subparagraph (2) of this paragraph, the company is under an obligation, which is either fixed or determined according to a formula which is fixed and not subject to change by the company, to pay such amounts as dividends to policyholders (as defined in section 811(a) and paragraph (a) of this section) during the year following the taxable year.

(2) Amounts set aside.

(i) In the case of a life insurance company (as defined in section 801(a) and paragraph (b) of § 1.801-3), all amounts set aside before the 16th day of the 3d month of the year following the taxable year for payment as dividends to policyholders (as defined in section 811(a) and paragraph (a) of this section) during the year following such taxable year shall be treated as amounts actually held at the end of the taxable year.

(ii) In the case of a mutual savings bank subject to the tax imposed by section 594, all amounts set aside before the 16th day of the 4th month of the year following the taxable year for payment as dividends to policyholders (as defined in section 811(a) and paragraph (a) of this section) during the year following such taxable year shall be treated as amounts actually held at the end of the taxable year.

(3) 1958 reserve for dividends to policyholders. For purposes of section 811(b) and paragraph (b) of this section, the amounts held at the end of 1957 as reserves for dividends to policyholders payable during 1958 shall be determined as if part I, subchapter L, chapter 1 of the Code (as in effect for 1958) applied for 1957. Any adjustment in the reserves for dividends to policyholders at the beginning of 1957 required as a result of an understatement or overstatement of such reserves by the company shall be made to the balance of such reserves as of the beginning of 1957. For example, if at the beginning of 1957 the reserves for dividends to policyholders are stated to be $100 and it is subsequently determined that such reserves should have been $90, the reserves at the beginning of 1957 shall be reduced by $10. Under no circumstances shall an adjustment required with regard to the beginning 1957 reserves be made to the reserves at the end of 1957.

(4) Information to be filed. Every company claiming a deduction for dividends to policyholders shall keep such permanent records as are necessary to establish the amount of dividends actually paid during the taxable year. Such company shall also keep a copy of the dividend resolution and any necessary supporting data relating to the amounts of dividends declared and to the amounts held or set aside as reserves for dividends to policyholders during the taxable year. The company shall file with its return a concise statement of the pertinent facts relating to its dividend policy for the year, the amount of dividends actually paid during the taxable year, and the amounts held or set aside as reserves for dividends to policyholders during the taxable year.

(d) Illustration of principles. The provisions of section 811(b) and this section may be illustrated by the following examples:

Example 1.
On December 31, 1959, M, a life insurance company, held $200 as reserves for dividends to policyholders due and payable in 1960. On March 10, 1960, M set aside an additional $50 as reserves for dividends to policyholders due and payable in 1960. During the taxable year 1960, M paid $240 as dividends to its policyholders and at the end of the taxable year 1960, held $175 as reserves for dividends to policyholders due and payable in 1961. No additional amount was set aside before March 16, 1961, as reserves for dividends to policyholders due and payable in 1961. For the taxable year 1960, subject to the limitation of section 809(f), M's deduction for dividends to policyholders is $165, computed as follows:
(1) Dividends paid to policyholders during the taxable year 1960 $240
(2) Decreased by the excess of item (a) over item (b):
(a) Reserves for dividends to policyholders as of 12-31-59 (including amounts set aside as provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this section) $250
(b) Reserves for dividends to policyholders as of 12-31-60− 175
- - - 75
(3) Deduction for dividends to policyholders under sec. 811(b) (computed without regard to the limitation of sec. 809(f)) $165
Example 2.
On December 31, 1960, S, a life insurance company, held $100 as reserves for dividends to policyholders due and payable in 1961. During the taxable year 1961, S paid $125 as dividends to its policyholders and at the end of the taxable year 1961, held $110 as reserves for dividends to policyholders due and payable in 1962. No additional amount was set aside for dividends to policyholders as provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this section before March 16, 1961, or March 16, 1962. For the taxable year 1961, subject to the limitation of section 809(f), S's deduction for dividends to policyholders is $135, computed as follows:
(1) Dividends paid to policyholders during the taxable year 1961 $125
(2) Increased by the excess of item (a) over item (b):
(a) Reserves for dividends to policyholders as of 12-31-61 $110
(b) Reserves for dividends to policyholders as of 12-31-60 100
- - - 10
(3) Deduction for dividends to policyholders under sec. 811(b) (computed without regard to the limitation of sec. 809(f)) $135
Example 3.
Assume the facts are the same as in example 2, except that on December 31, 1960, the amount held as reserves for dividends to policyholders due and payable in 1961 is $250. For the taxable year 1961, S's deduction for dividends to policyholders is zero, computed as follows:
(1) Dividends paid to policyholders during the taxable year 1961 $125
(2) Decreased by the excess of item (a) over item (b):
(a) Reserves for dividends to policyholders as of 12-31-60 $250
(b) Reserves for dividends to policyholders as of 12-31-61 110
- - - 140
(3) Deduction for dividends to policyholders under sec. 811(b) (computed without regard to the limitation of sec. 809(f)) $0
Under the provisions of section 811(b)(2) and paragraph (b)(2) of this section, since the decrease in the reserves for dividends to policyholders during the taxable year, $140 ($250 minus $110), exceeds the dividends to policyholders paid during the taxable year 1961, $125, S shall include $15 (the amount of such excess) as a net decrease under section 809(c)(2) and paragraph (a)(2) of § 1.809-4 in determining its gain or loss from operations for 1961.
[T.D. 6535, 26 FR 534, Jan. 20, 1961]