Employee Benefits Law Group works closely with churches and religious organizations to help meet their unique defined contribution and defined benefit plan needs, specifically with respect to plan design, plan administration, plan compliance and fiduciary matters.
Church plans generally aren't subject to the same federal and State laws and regulations that govern private sector retirement plans, so having a knowledgeable partner is crucial. With more than 20 years of experience with church plans, our team can collaborate with your organization's senior management to help you design the appropriate plan that achieves your strategic administrative goals, while ensuring compliance and fiduciary soundness.
We've helped dozens of religious organizations build and maintain benefit plans.
Whether your organization maintains a defined benefit plan, a defined contribution plan or a 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity plan, we can provide advice and share best practices to make them run smoothly and cost-effectively in the areas outlined below.
We can work with your religious organization to:
Help tax-qualified, non-ERISA plans address plan design and administrative issues.
Because church plans aren't subject to ERISA and many of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) rules relating to spousal benefits don't apply to church plans, these plans face unique challenges when it comes to the payment of death benefits and payments to alternate payees pursuant to domestic relations orders. We work closely with plan sponsors and their other consultants to minimize compliance problems.
Assist with the application of the Code's "controlled group" or "common control" rules for health plan and retirement plan purposes.
The rules relating to the "aggregation" of various religious entities aren't crystal clear, but are very important when it comes to the design and compliance of church-sponsored welfare plans and retirement plans. Understanding how and why the IRS groups certain organizations together for compliance purposes is important when it comes to satisfying the rules that apply to church-based retirement plans and health plans that are subject to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We'll help you understand how the IRS views these plans and help ensure they remain in compliance.
Assist with the provision of targeted supplemental benefits to support retired clergy.
Church plans are subject to various nondiscrimination rules under the Code. We can help you design new plans to provide targeted supplemental benefits while maintaining the qualified status of your broad-based retirement plans.
Advise on tax rules related to housing allowances and long-term care benefits.
We can help you address the challenge of needing to provide ongoing support to your retired clergy. We understand the special tax rules applicable to many of these situations and can advise you to structure these benefits in the most tax-effective way.
Provide plan design options that will lessen the burden of plan administration.
We take a proactive approach when it comes to plan design and administration issues. We have worked closely with the in-house administrators of our church plan clients, and their outside advisors, to find ways to greatly ease the record keeping and administrative burdens.
Assist with religious organization 403(b) plan setup.Many religious organizations maintain tax-sheltered annuity or 403(b) plans. If your plan is considered a "church plan," it is generally exempt from the ERISA requirements, including its fiduciary rules. We advise a number of church-sponsored 403(b) plan administrative committees to understand their plans' non-ERISA fiduciary duties and administrative best practices.