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Illinois Industrial Insured Self-Procurement Tax Guidance Announced

As we have previously covered in detail, at the end of its 2014 regular legislative session, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a multimillion dollar tax on Illinois companies using captive insurance arrangements.  The law was enacted under the guise of technical corrections to the insurance code.

Historically, Illinois businesses meeting basic levels of sophistication and size were entitled to obtain coverage from nonadmitted insurers under an “industrial insured” exception to the general prohibition on transacting unauthorized insurance.  Senate Bill 3324, now Public Act 98-0978 (the Act), tightened the qualifying criteria for the industrial insured exception and imposed new taxes and fees totaling between 3.6 percent and 4.6 percent of premium—equivalent to those imposed on a policy procured by a surplus lines broker.  The potential financial impact has been estimated at upward of $100 million, falling squarely on large- and mid-sized companies headquartered in Illinois.  The affected business community was aghast when the surprising tax consequences were discovered, but its efforts to repeal the law in the General Assembly’s fall veto session proved unsuccessful.

The law now has come into effect, applying to policies effective on or after January 1, 2015.  The statute provides that reports are due to the Surplus Lines Association of Illinois within 90 days of the effective date of a policy, and so reports for calendar year policies must be filed by April 1, 2015.  Applicable taxes and fees are then due 30 days after the filing of the report.  The Department of Insurance has not yet provided any guidance on the new law, but the Surplus Lines Association of Illinois has updated its website with an online filing system for businesses subject to the tax.  Affected businesses must register and complete their online reports within the requisite 90-day deadline.  Reporting is on a policy-by-policy and transaction-by-transaction basis.  The system then calculates the applicable taxes and fees.  Once a transaction is submitted, the website instructs that Surplus Lines Association of Illinois will e-mail an invoice for its 0.1 percent association stamping fee, and the Illinois Department of Insurance will mail an invoice for the 3.5 percent premium tax and any applicable fire marshal tax.

It remains to be seen whether another, more successful effort to overturn the law will be undertaken during the 2015 legislative session.  In the interim, affected taxpayers are required to comply with the law’s filing requirements and will be assessed the new tax.

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Illinois Clarifies Treatment of Corporate Income Refunds in the Calculation of Retaliatory Tax

Illinois is one of a small number of states that impose both an income tax and a premium tax on insurance companies.  Disputes have arisen between insurers and the Illinois Department of Insurance (Department) regarding the proper treatment of income tax refunds in the calculation of retaliatory tax.  The dispute typically concerns whether an income tax refund should be included in the Illinois Basis of an insurer’s retaliatory tax computation for the year in which the income tax refund is paid or in the Illinois Basis for retaliatory tax computation for the tax year to which the refund relates.  The Department has taken the position that the income tax refund must be applied to Illinois Basis for the year in which the refund is paid, based on language of a Departmental regulation (50 Ill. Adm. Code Sec. 2515.50(b)) providing that Illinois Basis used to compute retaliatory tax must include “the amount of Illinois corporate and replacement income tax paid, decreased by the amount, if any, of any corporate and/or income replacement tax cash refund received in the same calendar year if that cash refund has been considered part of the Illinois corporate and replacement income tax paid in the calculation of the annual retaliatory tax in a preceding year.” (50 Ill. Adm. Code Sec. 2515.50(b)(5)) (emphasis added).

On March 3, 2014, the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth District issued an unpublished ruling in which it found that 50 Ill. Admin. Code Sec. 2515.50(b) was invalid because it conflicted with the state’s mandate that the retaliatory tax include corporate income tax imposed, not paid, in a particular year.  The opinion authorized the taxpayers who challenged the Department’s interpretation to calculate their retaliatory tax by applying their corporate income tax refund to the tax year to which the refund related, regardless of the year in which it was paid.

In its opinion, the appellate court twice noted that if the Department’s interpretation had been upheld, the taxpayers would have been required to pay more retaliatory taxes than they would have originally owed simply because they initially overpaid their corporate income tax.  This point of equity appears to have been a strong supporting factor for the appellate court in its decision to invalidate the regulation.  United States Liability Ins. Co., et al v. The Department of Insurance, 2014 IL App. (4th) 121125-U (March 3, 2014) (Opinion issued pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23).

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