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How does a pastors housing allowance affect the definition of compensa


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I am working on a small 403(B) plan for a church.

In addition to regular staff, there are three pastors that declare a portion of their income as a housing allowance.

Hows does this play into the definition of compensation for the retirement plan? How does it play into any benefit or contribution limits ?( 404,515, etc.)

The church board retirement policy has been to fund 6% of pay, based upon gross salary (including the housing allowance).

Do you see any problems with this approach?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Actuarysmith - A minister's "parsonage" allowance, while excludible from income, can likewise be counted as compensation for purposes of a qualified plan. Rev. Rul. 73-258, 1973-1 C.B. 194. This is cited as current in the 2002 versions of both the BNA benefits service and the CCH service.

I had thought that this had been reversed in the 1996 tax legislation, but... I can't find any reference to it. See Sections 1461 to 1463 of the Small Business Jobs Protection Act for what changes were made.

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Guest strider

As BeckyMiller indicated, the IRS has ruled that housing allowance can be counted as compensation for purposes of a section 401(a) qualified plan's definition of that term, on which contributions are based. I believe that the IRS would reach the same conclusion for 403(B) plans, too. However, housing allowance cannot be counted as compensation (or includible compensation, in the 403(B) world) for section 415 limits testing, to the extent it is tax excludible. Please e-mail me if you have any further questions about this issue.

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  • 11 months later...

Even though Rev. Rul. 73-258 states that a housing allowance CAN be included in the definition of compensation for a 401(a) plan, I assume that you could NOT include it if your plan's definition of compensation was limited to W-2 wages.

PLR 200135046 tracks the alternative definitions of compensation in 415 including W-2 Compensation and states that the housing allowance does not fall under any possible 415 definition of compensation. The conclusion is, therefore that you cannot use the housing allowance in your 415 testing.

However, I would think that a corrollary to this rule is that if your plan defines compensation as W-2 compensation then you could not use the housing allowance for any purpose?

Does anyone have other thoughts?

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  • 9 years later...

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