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New York Life Chair Set to Lead Life Insurers Into 2021 Budget Battles

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Ted Mathas is preparing to lead U.S. life insurers into whatever the next 12 months may hold.

The board of the American Council of Life Insurers today elected Mathas to be its 2020-2021 chair at its annual conference.

Mathas — the chairman and chief executive officer of New York Life Insurance Company — has been on track to be the ACLI’s 2020-2021 chair since 2018.

(Related: Life Insurers Mobilize for 2020)

Mathas succeeds Dan Houston, the CEO of Principal Financial Group.

The ACLI’s 2021-2022 chair-elect is J. Scott Davison, of One America Financial Partners. The group’s 2022-2023 chair-elect is John Schlifske, of Northern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Susan Neely continues to be the ACLI’s president.


The ACLI is a Washington-based trade group for life insurers. ACLI members provide coverage for about 90 million American families.

The ACLI reported a $714,601 net loss for 2018 on $46 million in revenue and $50 million in assets, according to the most recent Form 990 annual report available for the ACLI at

The ACLI analyzes and comments on just about every major federal legislative or regulatory effort that affects life insurance or annuities, and most major state legislative or regulatory efforts that affect life insurance and annuities.

In 2017, the ACLI played a major role in helping to shape the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).

The ACLI has also played a major role in shaping federal and state efforts to set standards for the sale of life insurance and annuities.

The 2021 Gameboard

Whoever wins the upcoming presidential elections, COVID-19 pandemic has led to the U.S. federal government running up a $3.3 trillion budget deficit for federal fiscal year 2020, which ended Sept. 30. The deficit is about equal to the federal government’s $3.3 trillion in revenue.

The United States has about $95 trillion in total wealth, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s Z.1 tables reports, and total wealth.

Life insurers account for about $8.3 trillion  of the country’s financial assets.

Given the size of budget deficit, life insurers could face a wide range of tax proposals in the coming year.

The TCJA doubled the the federal gift and estate tax exemption to $11.58 million per individual taxpayer and $23.16 million per couple. The current exemption levels are set to expire at the end of 2025.

If Biden becomes president, he could let the exemptions return to the pre-TCJA levels.

That could help life insurers, by expanding the market for the kinds of life insurance policies used in estate planning arrangements.

But other tax changes could bite into life insurers’ earnings, affect the tax rules governing life and annuity products, or have an indirect effect on product sales, by affecting U.S. consumers’ and businesses’ appetite for insurance and annuity products.

— Read Budget Analysis Keeps Group Health in Dangeron ThinkAdvisor.

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