Category Archives: Board of Pensions

Benefits Connections – Presented by the Board of Pensions

Helping Church Employers Align Benefits and Values

Who Should Attend?

People who drive benefits decisions and manage benefits for churches of all sizes — large and small — including but not limited to

congregational leaders, including

  • business administrators;
  • office managers;
  • clerks of session;
  • personnel committee chairs; and
  • pastors; and

presbytery leaders, including

  • Committee on Ministry (COM) members; and
  • Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) members.

Registration is open to anyone who would like to attend.

Go to the Board of Pensions Benefits Connections page for more information and how to register.

Board of Pensions Seminars in Urbana, IL

The Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois is sponsoring two upcoming Board of Pensions’ seminars. Both seminars will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana.

Render unto Caesar” will be offered on Tuesday, May 8 from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. This seminar which looks at terms of call and tax issues for clergy is targeted toward both clergy and church financial staff.

Growing into Tomorrow . . . Today” will be offered on Wednesday – ThursdayMay 9 – 10 from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm both days. This seminar looks at retirement planning and is targeted for individuals within about 15 years of retirement.

Access the PDF links above for more information about the events and how to register.

Board of Pensions Uncovers Fraud Scheme

Board of Pensions News Release

Contact: Susan Reimann
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
215-587-7228 • sreimann@nullpensions.org

PHILADELPHIA  — The Board of Pensions is investigating the fraudulent redirection of 11 pension payments. The Board reissued the December payments to the pensioners, and acted immediately to ensure that no other Benefits Plan members or pensioners were, or would be, affected. The fraud did not affect any other plans or funds.

The Board also identified that the online accounts of 46 additional pensioners had been altered to redirect future payments. The Board reversed these, thwarting the attempt at a second theft. Credit and identity protection service is being offered to the 57 pensioners who were in some way affected.

“We identified it, contained it, and prevented further damage,” Board President Frank C. Spencer said. “The final loss was minimal and we have insurance as well.” The Board is working with its insurance carrier, a top forensic consulting firm, and law enforcement to determine the source of the fraud and to help ensure system security, he said.

“We’re fending off attempts at computer-facilitated fraud daily, as is every large organization in the United States today,” President Spencer said. The Board monitors the safety of its systems constantly and frequently upgrades systems security. The fraud investigation is in the early stages, but there is no indication that Board systems were hacked.

“This was the transfer of the pension payment through direct deposit, and the assets of the Board were never in danger,” President Spencer said. The number of pension payments made by the Board in 2017 will total about 250,000, he said. Last month was the first time any have been fraudulently redirected.

The fraud follows a pattern of targeting older retirees who do not have online profiles.

“The targeting of elderly people in this way is happening a lot. It’s cruel,” President Spencer said. “We need to be alert to this sort of fraud. And we need to help protect our loved ones and friends who are vulnerable to it. Remind them to check their accounts regularly, especially for automatic deposits and withdrawals.”


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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). 


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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.