In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court restored order to the church plan community by holding that an employee benefit plan sponsored by a church affiliate does not have to be established by a church in order for that plan to qualify for the church plan exemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as long as the plan is maintained by a principal-purpose organization. However, this decision will not end the litigation brought by church plan participants. There are other elements of the church plan definition that have to be resolved.
Author: Paul J. Schneider, JD, LLM,is senior counsel to Paisner~ Litvin, LLP, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, where he has advised clients on taxation and employee benefit matters for more than 30 years. He is a charter fellow of the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel and has served as chairman of the Important Developments Subcommittee of the American Bar Association Tax Section’s Employee Benefits Committee. Mr. Schneider is also a member of the Board of Editors of the Journal of Taxation. Mr. Schneider is a graduate of Lehigh University, Columbia University School of Law (JD), New York University (LLM in Taxation), and LaSalle University (MBA). Mr. Schneider frequently writes articles and lectures on tax and employee benefits-related topics, and is coeditor of ERISA: A Comprehensive Guide, 4th Edition (Aspen, 2011).