Tess Gee Comments on Hospital Church Plan Lawsuits in Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report

"IRS Mum as Hospital Church Plan Lawsuits Continue"
Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report
07.14.16Tess Gee commented on recent lawsuits filed against religiously affiliated hospitals that have labeled their pension plans as church plans. The suits allege that the hospitals do not have a basis for doing so and, as a result, have dangerously underfunded their pensions. Several hospitals received private letter rulings (PLRs) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to support this designation but the lawsuits are now questioning that basis. Church plans are not obligated to fund and protect workers' pensions and are not required to comply with fiduciary or ERISA rules. The sponsor of a church plan "gets to make their promises to the participant that they're going to provide this great retirement benefit," Gee said, adding that the sponsor also gets the tax benefits of providing a retirement plan, but if it is unable to deliver on its promises, it faces few consequences.
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