Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016by Representative Richard E. Neal
Posted on 2015-12-17
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Mr. NEAL. Mr. Speaker, the Church Plan Clarification Act addresses
several unintended consequences resulting from the application of
general tax and pension regulations to the unique structures of church
pension plans. Churches and synagogues established some of the first
pension plans in the country, several dating back to the 18th century,
and they are designed to ensure that our clergy and laystaff have
adequate resources during their retirement years.
Church plans are often structured to reflect the ecclesiastical teachings of their denomination. The resulting diversity of plan structures, coupled with the complexity of the legal and regulatory framework that applies to church plans, has led to the need for this legislation. The bill would correct several technical issues that are critical to the functioning and operation of church plans and the retirement benefits they provide.
While the corrections contained in PATH Act would be of tremendous help to church plans, I want to make clear that the bill does not affect the definition of ``church plan'' under the Internal Revenue Code or Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, ERISA. In particular, no inference is intended by this legislation regarding the statutory requirements a pension plan must meet to be considered or treated as a ``church plan'' under IRC section 414(e) of the Internal Revenue Code and section 3(33) of ERISA, and the bill has no bearing on the interpretation of those sections. Rather, the Church Plan Clarification Act is simply about fixing the rules that govern how church plans operate and serve their participants.