The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) is fast becoming the global standard for tax information reporting outside the United States. As more countries adopt CRS, and as penalties for late, incorrect or missed CRS filings become more severe, financial institutions need to know what their compliance requirements are. The following are clarification and detail about what insurers need to know about CRS reporting obligations.
Under the CRS, the term “Financial Institution” means a Custodial Institution, a Depository Institution, an Investment Entity, or a Specified Insurance Company. (CRS, Section VIII: Defined Terms, A.3).
A “Specified Insurance Company” is “any Entity that is an insurance company (or the holding company of an insurance company) that issues, or is obligated to make payments with respect to, A Cash Value Insurance Contract or an Annuity Contract.” (Section VIII, A.8). Insurance companies that only provide general insurance or term life insurance will not be specified insurance companies, nor will reinsurance companies that only provide indemnity reinsurance contracts.
Typically, an insurance company meets the criteria of a Specified Insurance Company if:
Insurance companies that provide only general insurance or term life insurance are typically not classified as FIs; likewise, reinsurance companies which provide only indemnity reinsurance contracts and insurance brokers are typically not considered to be FIs.
Of the five types of financial accounts that must be reported under CRS, two relate to insurance companies: annuity contracts and cash value insurance contracts.
Under the CRS, all reporting FIs have the obligation to report the following:
The CRS does note that in reporting account balances or values, that Cash Value Insurance Contracts and Annuity Contracts, FIs should report the Cash Value or surrender value of the contracts. (Section I, A.4).
In order to meet the requirement to report residence of the account owner, insurers who provide Cash Value Insurance Contracts may rely on the current residence address in its records until 1) there is a change of circumstances that causes the FI to know or have reason to know that the residence address is incorrect or unreliable, or 2) that the time of pay-out (whether full or partial) or maturity of the Cash Value Insurance Contract.
Insurance companies do not have to report, review, or identify a pre-existing individual account that is a Cash Value Insurance Contract or an Annuity Contract provided that the FI’s jurisdiction prevents FIs from selling contracts to residents of that jurisdiction.
The CRS establishes an alternative due diligence procedure for Cash Value Insurance Contracts and Annuity Contracts in Paragraph B of the Special Due Diligence Rules. The CRS advises that a reporting FI may presume that an individual beneficiary (other than the owner) of a Cash Value Insurance Contract or Annuity Contract receiving a death benefit is not a reportable person, and that FIs may treat such accounts as other than a reportable account unless the reporting FI has actual knowledge or reason to know that the beneficiary is a reportable person. If the beneficiary is a reportable person, the FI is required to follow the procedures established in paragraph B of Section III.
The Commentary to the CRS notes that an alternative procedure similar to the above may be necessary for certain employer-sponsored group insurance contracts or annuity contracts. In such cases, the Commentary suggests adding a provision to account for group insurance contracts. In cases where such group insurance plans exist, the Commentary advises a provision to state something similar to the following: “A Reporting Financial Institution may treat a Financial Account that is a member’s interest in a Group Cash Value Insurance Contract or Group Annuity Contract as a Financial Account that is not a Reportable Account until the date on which an amount is payable to the employee/certificate holder or beneficiary, if the Financial Account that is a member’s interest in a Group Cash Value Insurance Contract or Group Annuity Contract meets the following requirements:
(Commentary on Section VII, paragraph 13; pg. 153). The last provision is provided if the Financial Institution does not have a direct relationship with the employee/certificate holder at inception of the contract and thus may not be able to obtain documentation regarding their residence.
Insurers who fall under the definition of Financial Institution provided by the CRS are obligated to report on Cash Value Contracts and Annuity Contracts, so long as such contracts are allowed in the jurisdiction the FI is reporting from. These FIs have an obligation to comply with the due diligence requirements that the CRS imposes on them, and can make use of an alternate procedure to comply.