Malta Pension Plan Being Investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation Division

The Malta Pension Plan is a tax-favorable pension plan that has been used by U.S. taxpayers in Malta. The plan allows for significant tax savings, as gains on assets contributed to the plan are not subject to tax in Malta or in the U.S. However, the IRS and Treasury have taken the position that the Malta Pension Plan is abusive and that it was not intended by the Treaty drafters.


In July 2021, the IRS added the Malta Pension Plan to its “Dirty Dozen” list of abusive tax schemes. In December 2021, Treasury published a Competent Authority Arrangement (CAA) that severely narrowed the definition of what qualifies as a pension and thus the overall tax benefits possible under the Treaty.

More recently, in early June 2023, the Treasury Department proposed regulations that would designate Malta Pension Plan arrangements as “listed transactions.” If the regulations are finalized, Malta Pension Plan arrangements will be subject to the same additional scrutiny applicable to all listed transactions, including certain disclosure requirements, increased penalty exposure, and record-keeping requirements for material advisors.

In a significant development last week, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agents began visiting taxpayers and advisors who have participated in, or advised on, Malta Pension Plans. IRS-CI agents are issuing summons to parties to produce documents for a nationally coordinated investigation. The involvement of IRS-CI makes clear that the IRS believes that at least some Malta Pension Plan arrangements may be the product of criminal or fraudulent conduct.

We advise clients that there is no obligation to speak with an IRS-CI Special Agent and that anything disclosed to the IRS can be used in a criminal or civil case against them. If you have received an interview request from IRS CI, you should speak with an experienced tax counsel who can advise you on your rights and obligations in responding to an IRS inquiry.

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