Category Archives: Board of Pensions

Board of Pensions issues statement on housing allowance ruling

Spencer says, ‘We will keep working diligently to protect our ministers’

by Susan Reimann | Board of Pensions

Read the original article here.

PHILADELPHIA — On Oct. 6, Judge Barbara Crabb, a federal district court judge in the Western District of Wisconsin, found Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code (the subsection dealing with housing allowances) to be unconstitutional based on the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Section 107(1), relating to the exclusion of the value of manse housing, was not the subject of the lawsuit and remains unaffected.

The Board of Pensions is deeply concerned by this ruling. If upheld on appeal, it would substantially impact the congregations and ministers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Board believes that it is inconsistent to exclude manse housing from income and not treat a comparable cash allowance in the same manner.

“Our concern is that ministers could face a substantial and unfair tax burden should the housing allowance in lieu of manse housing be deemed income,” said the Rev. Frank C. Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions. “Our defined benefit pension plan likewise depends on the same treatment to provide adequate income replacement to retired ministers.”

Through the Church Alliance, the Board has been monitoring this lawsuit, brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation against the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The Church Alliance had previously filed briefs with the court in this matter and expects to file an amicus brief upon appeal.

The Church Alliance is a coalition of the CEOs of 38 denominational church plans who work to preserve the legal rights of churches and their employees and clergy in the realm of benefits and compensation. Spencer represents the PC(USA) on the steering committee of the Church Alliance and Board Counsel Jean Hemphill serves as a member of the Church Alliance Core Lawyer Working Group.

The Church Alliance follows issues in the legislative, regulatory, and judicial branches of government. It has engaged the firm of K&L Gates as its Washington, D.C., counsel. Members of the Church Alliance routinely engage with members of Congress and the staff of federal agencies. The Core Lawyer Working Group often develops and files amici briefs in important judicial cases.

Judge Crabb has given the parties until Oct. 30, 2017, to submit briefs concerning possible remedies, after which she will make a final ruling. Judge Crabb heard an earlier case brought by the same parties in 2013 and made the same ruling but stayed any action pending appeal. The 2013 ruling was overturned by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the Freedom From Religion Foundation plaintiffs lacked standing to bring action. This suit seems to have corrected the issue of standing and, if appealed as expected, the Court of Appeals would presumably consider the constitutional issue itself.

“We will keep working diligently to protect our ministers,” said Spencer, “and we expect this to be a short-term setback and not the end of the story.”

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About the Board of Pensions
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a connectional church. The Board of Pensions, one of six agencies of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), fulfills a unique role in the community by upholding the commitment made by congregations to care for installed pastors and by providing ways for churches and other Presbyterian-affiliated employers to care for other teaching elders and other employees. The board administers the benefits of approximately 20,600 pensioners and survivors, 12,900 active members, 18,300 dependents, and 8,700 inactive members (those with vested pension credits who are not actively participating in the benefits plan). 


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Benefits Connections Registration

Benefits Connections are one-day gatherings for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) employers on benefits.

Who Should Attend?

People who drive benefits decisions and manage benefits, including but not limited to

  • business administrators;
  • office managers;
  • clerks of session;
  • personnel committee chairs;
  • pastors; and
  • Committee on Ministry (COM) members.

Registration is open to anyone who would like to attend.

Why Attend?

During this one-day seminar, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the theological values that shape the Benefits Plan, ask questions during a Q-and-A with Board of Pensions leadership and staff, and enjoy fellowship with other benefit decision-makers.

You will participate in

  • worship;
  • plenary sessions and topical workshops;
  • a networking lunch; and
  • a panel discussion with your peers.

You’ll leave with a better understanding of the plan, newly established peer relationships, and new strategies for being the best employer you can be.

Get more information and register at the Board of Pensions website.

Tax Resources for Ministers

– From the Board of Pensions

2016 and 2017 Tax Resources Are Here!

The Tax Guide for Ministers for 2016 Returns and Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches: What You Need To Know for 2017 are now available through Benefits Connect (search in Resources & Support). The Tax Guide will also be mailed to active and retired teaching elders this month.

Included with the Tax Guide is the housing allowance letter, which is available on pensions.org.

The web module Tax Tips for Members and Churches – Tax Year 2016 is now available at Board University. This annual resource helps active and retired teaching elders, treasurers, and church administrators understand recent tax law changes that affect income tax reporting and filing. The module contains links to other helpful resources, including the Clergy Housing Allowance web module.

Learn About Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches

What You Need to Know in 2015

You can now access Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches, What You Need to Know in 2015 on pensions.org, through Benefits Connect.

Benefits Connect is the Board’s secure benefits website that provides

  • church treasurers and business administrators access to important information for their organization’s benefits administration responsibilities;
  • eligible members access to their personal and benefits information and online tools; and
  • access to the Tax Guide for Ministers.

Using Benefits Connect Is Easy

If you are not already using Benefits Connect, registering is easy. Go to pensions.org and click Register beside Benefits Connect. You will need your PIN and email address. Follow the easy instructions to create your password and user profile.

If you have questions, call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN) and speak with a member service representative.

Learn About the Changes to BOP Medical Dues

For 2015, Traditional Program medical dues are:

  • 24.5 percent for Member + Family coverage (covering eligible family members, including covered partners and/or children); and
  • 23 percent for Member-only coverage. (Member-only coverage is for members who are single or whose eligible family members have access to other coverage, such as employer-sponsored coverage.) Employing organizations may ask members to pay none, some, or all of the 1.5 percent allowable dues-share amount.

Learn about changes to Traditional Program medical dues for 2015

 

 

News from the Board of Pensions

Annual Enrollment

Time to Check on Dental and Supplemental Death Benefits, the Retirement Savings Plan, and Long-Term Care Insurance

Annual enrollment, now through November 15, is your chance to apply for or make changes to dental and supplemental death coverage. If you did not enroll in these plans when you first joined the Benefits Plan, annual enrollment is the only time you can enroll in or make changes to your dental and supplemental death coverage unless you have certain qualified life-change events.

It’s also a great time to choose to start saving – or save more – in the Retirement Savings Plan and to consider applying for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Visit pensions.org/annualenrollment for additional details and applications.

Oct. 1-3 BOP seminars in Champaign, IL

Board University education seminars are a plan benefit provided for our members and employing organizations. The Board of Pensions is pleased to partner with the Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois to offer these seminars in at First Presbyterian Church in Champaign, IL:

  • October 1-2 Growing Into Tomorrow…Today, a holistic retirement planning seminar for mid- to late-career plan members (age 50 and older, but not yet retired clergy and lay plan members, and their guest). Download the Flyer
  • October 3 Post-Retirement seminar, on post-employment vocation, retirement, and financial planning for clergy and lay plan retirees (or their designated representatives), and surviving covered partners. Download the Flyer

Each seminar has a maximum seating of 30 attendees. Registration opened on July 8 and runs through September 13, 2013.

To learn more about the seminars, and to register to attend them before their respective deadlines, interested individuals may visit the registration websites for each seminar being offered:

For questions or concerns about these seminar offerings, or any of the Board’s education programs, please contact us at education@nullpensions.org or 800-773-7752, ext. 7223.

The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) | 2000 Market St., 4th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19103-3298

P: 800-773-7752, ext. 7223 / 215-587-7223 | F: 215-587-6212 | www.pensions.org

Visit Seminars & E-learning on www.pensions.org! Board University programs and resources are organized into three audiences so you can find what best fits your needs: members, treasurers/administrators, and mid councils.