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Nonelecting Church plan offers a match--5500 required?

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Nonelecting Church plan offers a match.  Does that make them subject to Title I now?  And do they have to file 5500s?

Fact pattern:

Nonelecting church plan, never sent written statement to be covered under ERISA.  But they have been filing 5500s (for whatever reason).  We took it over, and told them they might not have to file.  But they said they did because they offer a match.

Is that true for Church plans (as opposed to a "regular" non-ERISA 403(b) Plan)?


Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.

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I just saw that this morning.  It's what prompted my inquiry.

So, unlike a "regular" 403(b) that makes a match and is thus subject to ERISA and its reporting requirements, if it's a Church Plan that is making the match, they still must overtly elect to be covered and then, and only then, file a 5500?


Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No, they do not have to file a 5500.  And the past error of filing a 5500 does not make a church plan an electing church plan (which would be covered by ERISA).    A Church plan has to file a formal election  (a "410(d) election") to become ERISA.  It cannot "accidently" become ERISA.  Church plan status is statutory. Non-Electing (Non-ERISA) Church plans have very little in common with other Non-ERISA 403(b) plans.  The idea that a match affects this is a mistaken confusion of the church plan 403(b) rules with the rules applicable to Non-ERISA plans sponsored by 501(c)(3) NonProfits.

If this church has not filed a 410(d) election, it is not ERISA and they do not file 5500's. No matter who is in the plan, what the eligibility rules are or whether or not employer contributions are made.

Patricia Neal Jensen, JD

Vice President and Nonprofit Practice Leader

|Future Plan, an Ascensus Company

21031 Ventura Blvd., 12th Floor

Woodland Hills, CA 91364

E patricia.jensen@futureplan.com

P 949-325-6727

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