Tax Planning

Life, Death and Taxes

By Lisa Koerner, Insurance Advisor

If you are looking for some creative ways to avoid paying taxes, don’t overlook the benefits of life insurance. There are several different types of life insurance policies that serve different objectives, the greatest is a tax-free death benefit for your beneficiaries. Also, the death benefit does not go through probate, so only your beneficiaries can receive the money. There are a few things to look for when searching for the right life insurance.

When choosing life insurance programs, term life policies are typically the most popular. Term policies offer a larger death benefit for a smaller premium, however, the rates are only locked in for a certain number of years and don’t provide any cash return if you outlive the term or cancel the policy.

The advantage of a permanent policy is that it can build cash value in the policy that you can access tax-free while you are living and still provide a tax-free death benefit for your beneficiaries.

Universal life plans offer more flexibility but are also driven by interest rates. When setting up this policy, it is very important to work with your agent to make sure it is properly funded in the beginning to avoid the need to put more money into it later on.

Whole life policies can also be a good option for cash value growth, but there are things to look for here as well. If you choose a policy that has dividend options, you can set up the policy to allow you to access the dividends tax-free in the future without worrying about having a loan on the policy that could affect how the policy pays out. The biggest thing to be aware of with cash value policies is that if you take out more money than what you put in, the gains would be considered taxable income.

To learn more, reach out to Lisa Koerner or the WisMed Assure team at insurance@wismedassure.org, complete this quick online form or call 608.442.3810 for help with your insurance needs.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as insurance advice related to your specific policy or situation. Please consult with a qualified insurance advisor or professional before making any policy decisions. Full disclaimer and contact information.

Disability and Life Insurance Taxation

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Chris Noffke

Taxation of benefits is a unique and important topic. Many groups I work with want to make sure their employees are not taxed for an employer paid life insurance benefit and other clients want to ensure that if an employee becomes disabled, they do not have to pay taxes on their already reduced income. Making sure these benefits are set up correctly, both by the insurance carriers and in your payroll service, is vital to tax-free benefits for employees.

Life insurance

Life insurance is the easier of the benefits to establish correctly. If an employer provides up to a $50,000 benefit to each employee, then this benefit and premiums paid for it can be excluded from an insured employee’s taxable wages. If you offer coverage to employees for a benefit over $50,000 and it is employer paid, you are required to tax premiums for the amount above $50,000.  

Disability insurance

A bigger discussion happens regarding disability insurances (both Long-term and Short-term). When an employee or owner/partner is out of work due to a disability, they will receive only a fraction of their pre-disability earnings, the average benefit being 60% of pre-disability earnings. If an employer is paying 100% of the disability premiums, the employer can decide to offer these benefits as a “gross-up” to employees. A gross-up is structuring the premiums paid by the employer to be a taxable benefit on the employee payroll. The benefits received by the disabled employee (disability income) will then be tax deferred. The rule is direct, if employees are paying payroll taxes on the premiums that the employer is paying, the benefit will be tax free – however – it is very important that the payroll taxes begin prior to the benefits being received.

When premiums are split between the employer and employee, we need to make sure there are a few rules followed. If a benefit has a premium contribution of 50% paid by the employer and 50% paid by the employee, the setup will determine if the benefit is partially or fully taxable. If in this situation the employee pays their premiums pre-tax and there is no gross-up for the amount the employer pays, this full benefit will be taxable income. Another example is if the employer pays 50% of the benefit (not grossed-up) and the employee is paying for 50% of the benefit with post-tax dollars, then when the employee receives this disability income benefit, 50% of the benefit will be taxable. So, to make the full benefit tax deferred, you need to have the employer premiums paid be grossed-up and the employee portion needs to be paid with post-tax deductions.

This can get a bit confusing, and I would love to talk if you have any questions. Please email me at chris.noffke@wismedassure.org or call 608.442.3734.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as insurance advice related to your specific policy or situation. Please consult with a qualified insurance advisor or professional before making any policy decisions. Full disclaimer and contact information.

Winter 2024 Issue

Don’t Let Taxes Take a Bite Out of Your Finances: Common Errors to Avoid

By Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®, Senior Advisor, WisMed Financial

Crumpled tax form with money, calculator and notepad on the table.

Investing is a smart way to grow your wealth, and keeping more of it from taxes is even smarter.  Let’s explore some common tax mistakes investors make and how to avoid them.

Read more…


Change Healthcare™ Attack Highlights Often Overlooked Cyber Insurance Coverage

illustration of umbrella protecting computer screen from an attack

By Shawna Bertalot, CIC, ACI, WisMed Assure President

Many health care practices rely on a third party for access to their EMR and for billing. This creates a “contingent” or “dependent” risk. The February 21 cyberattack on Change Healthcare changed the world for many patients and health care providers.

Read more…


Disability and Life Insurance Taxation

Tax payment concept. State Government taxation, calculation of tax return. Blank tax form, calendar, magnifier, money, notebook, calculator, coins, glasses, watches, documents, computer.

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

Taxation of benefits is a unique and important topic. Many groups I work with want to make sure their employees are not taxed for an employer paid life insurance benefit and other clients want to ensure that if an employee becomes disabled, they do not have to pay taxes on their already reduced income.

Read more…


Tornadoes Can Strike in Seconds. Are You Ready?

photo of tornado

By The Hartford

Tornado season is upon us and could bring more storms in the months ahead. In fact, the U.S. experiences the most tornadoes of anywhere in the world.

Read more…


Tax Treatment of Long-term Care Insurance a Game Changer

Nurses, doctor and caregivers in nursing home take care of old men and women. Volunteers help aged people at home and hospital.

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

We put my dad into a nursing home on Monday. My mom had been his caretaker since he was diagnosed with a somewhat rare neurological disorder. My mom has been superwoman, a real- life example of a family member caring for a loved one.

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Your Medicare Update

Open Enrollment concept.

By Mary Krueger, Medicare Specialist

It’s early 2024 and its already time to explore Medicare options for 2025. Many Medicare enrollees want to look at what is suitable for their needs in the Medicare market. If you have started looking for yourself or someone else, there are many different ways to procure coverage.

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Life, Death and Taxes

Photo of a grandfather and his granddaughter loving autumn. Throwing leaves in the air.

By Lisa Koerner, Insurance Advisor

If you are looking for some creative ways to avoid paying taxes, don’t overlook the benefits of Life Insurance. There are several different types of life insurance policies to serve several different objectives, the greatest being a tax-free death benefit for your beneficiaries.

Read More…


The power of planning: a physician’s journey to financial wellness

By Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®, Financial Advisor, WisMed Financial

Mark Ziety

With uncertainties and change a constant, financial planning stands as a beacon of security and peace of mind. Today, we bring you a remarkable story that sheds light on how a dedicated physician and her family reaped the rewards of a well-structured financial plan, proving that even the busiest of physicians can find stability and fulfillment through proper financial planning.

Meet Sarah Thompson, MD (alias, of course), known for her compassionate care and unwavering commitment to her patients. Outside the exam room, however, Dr. Thompson faced the same financial challenges that many of us do – managing student loans, planning for retirement and ensuring her family’s future stability.

The Initial Challenge

Upon completing her medical education, Dr. Thompson was burdened with significant student loan debt. Balancing her medical practice while managing these loans was no easy feat. She often found herself conflicted between her passion for healing and the pressure of financial obligations. As her family grew, so did her responsibilities, making her realize the need for a comprehensive financial plan.

The Turning Point: Seeking Professional Guidance

Dr. Thompson decided to take a proactive step and sought the guidance of a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional. This move marked a turning point in her journey towards financial wellness. The financial planner analyzed her situation, considering her income, expenses, outstanding loans and future goals. They collaboratively created a customized plan that addressed her specific needs, aligning her financial strategy with her life aspirations.

The Plan in Action

  • Debt Repayment Strategy: The financial planner helped Dr. Thompson switch to her ideal repayment plan for her student loans. She made consistent progress in reducing her debt without compromising her family’s daily needs.
  • Investment and Retirement Planning: With a steady income and a solid debt repayment plan in place, Dr. Thompson could now focus on long-term financial security. The financial planner introduced her to a diversified investment portfolio and guided her through retirement planning, ensuring she could enjoy her retirement years without financial stress. “In my experience, those who save smaller amounts consistently tend to save more over time than those who try to save everything at once,” Mark Ziety, CFP, founder of WisMed Financial notes in this CBS News article.
  • Family Protection: Recognizing the importance of safeguarding her family’s future, Dr. Thompson also secured:
    •  life insurance
    • disability insurance
    • estate documents
    • college accounts
    • an emergency fund

This provided a safety net in case of unforeseen circumstances and offered peace of mind to her and her loved ones.

  • Tax Strategy: The largest lifetime expense for physicians is often taxes, and Dr. Thompson was no exception. Through yearly tax strategy, her deductions were maximized and taxable income shifted to save hundreds of thousands of dollars of lifetime tax.

The Outcome: A Life Transformed

As the years went by, Dr. Thompson’s commitment to her financial plan began to yield remarkable results. She saw her debt steadily decrease, her investments grow and her family thrive with the knowledge that their future was secure. This transformation didn’t just impact her financial health – it positively influenced her overall well-being. The reduction of financial stress allowed her to focus more on her patients, her family and even take time for her own personal growth and hobbies.

Key Takeaway

Dr. Thompson’s story is typical for physicians and underscores the incredible potential that a well-crafted financial plan holds. Regardless of your profession or life circumstances, careful financial planning can pave the way to stability, allowing you to navigate challenges with confidence and pursue your dreams without compromise.

For personalized help eliminating debt, investing smart and securing retirement, please contact Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF® 608.442.3750.

Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®

WisMed Financial, Inc. part of the Wisconsin Medical Society

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as financial or tax advice. Please consult with a qualified financial advisor or tax professional before making any financial decisions. Full disclosures.

Fall 2022 Issue

Affordability testing

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought a lot of extra work to employers and insurance companies. Whether you are pro-health care reform or against it, per the Health Affairs article, the ACA has not made insurance more affordable.

Read more…


Don’t forget to call your mom – and your insurance agent

By WisMed Assure Service Team

With the intention of easing administrative burden for WisMed Assure client physicians, several of our Medical Professional Liability carriers have significantly reduced or suspended asking for renewal applications over the past few years. While this does save time, renewal applications were an opportunity to touch base, review and discuss any changes to your practice that could impact your premium or coverage.

Read More…


Year-end tax planning for 2022

By Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®, Senior Advisor, WisMed Financial

Want to put thousands of dollars back into your pocket? Who doesn’t. Choices you make during your employer’s open enrollment period and for year-end tax planning can really add up.

Read More…


Graded premium disability? Yes, you can!

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

I recently worked with a young physician to set him up with personal disability protection to provide some financial security if life throws him and his family a curve ball. Prompting our planning was that one of his peers in the general surgery specialty sustained a serious hand injury, ending his ability to perform hands-on surgery.

Read more…


5 ways to develop inclusive hiring practices

By Society Insurance Human Resources, reposted with permission from Society Insurance

Inclusive hiring practices recognize diversity and embrace a wide range of perspectives that candidates from all walks of life bring to the organization. And according to research from Monster, “Four in five (86%) candidates globally say diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is important to them.”

Read more…