Sunday, January 17, 2010

Are US claim losses tax deductible?

Like many other Nortel retirees in the US I have a claim against NNI for the money they owe me out of my non-qualified defined benefit pension. What a mouthful! One would think that a defined benefit pension would be just that, and that the payments would continue for life, or the defined period, as expected.

What a shocker when my non-qualfied pension payment stopped last February. It was supposed to be a 10 year certain payment to cover the extra pension above the IRS limit on defined pensions that Nortel owed me due to my service and salary. More like uncertain! There was never anything certain about it!

We have to wonder: "why would the IRS set a limit on pension payments?" Seems like a scam to me! It only helps the company by allowing them to pay money out of general funds instead of the pension trust fund, and that in turn means they don't have to put as much into the trust fund to cover the NQ pensions. Then when they go bankrupt they can just stop paying that money. Is there any justice or morality in that?

I was thinking about it today, since it is time once again to start working on taxes, and I came up with a thought that may be worthwhile exploring. If, when Nortel finally winds up, we only receive a percentage of our claims, is the remainder tax deductible in some way.

Let's say for instance that Nortel still owes $100,000 in a non qualified pension or severance or some other scheme, and at wind up the debts and assets are such that they can only pay 20% on the claim. The $20,000 would be paid in a lump sum and subject to income tax at a rate that is probably higher than our normal tax rate. The other $80,000 is lost forever. So I am wondering if there is some way of claiming that,( hypothetical), $80,000 as a deduction on taxes. There is probably an IRS rule against it since it was never income to start with, only a promise, but may be worth following up on.

If I discover anything on this or can get anyone to shed light on this idea, I will post what I find out at a later date.

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