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Must Church Plans Have a Plan Document?

Q. It is my understanding that churches are exempt from the plan document requirement (unless sponsoring a 403(b)(9)) — IRS Notice 2009-3.  While I believe churches do need to have something in writing (although not necessarily a “formal” plan document), I seem to find a lot of information that contradicts this (basically indicating that all church plans require a “formal” plan document).

A. You are absolutely correct that unless it is a “steeple church” and they want a 403(b)(9), there is no requirement for any church or church related organization to have a plan document. However they need to have procedures/policies in place for how the “program” will be administered. If they don’t have a plan document then they need to have almost if not more written somewhere. Once the church finds that out they find it much easier to adopt a plan.

Also if the “church” or church-affiliated employer has elected to be covered by ERISA, then they would need a plan under DOL rules.

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