BBT president signs on to letter from denominational benefit plans

The president of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), Nevin Dulabaum, has signed on to a letter to Congressional leaders sent by chief executive officers of denominational benefit plans. The November letter expressed concern about two separate sections of the Internal Revenue Code, one with potential to restrict participation in church retirement income account plans, and the other to potentially impose a tax on church parking lots.

CEOs who signed the letter lead member organizations of a diverse interfaith group representing Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faith traditions. Their organizations provide retirement and health benefits to more than 1 million clergy, lay workers, and their families.

The letter addressed a recent position taken by the Treasury Department and IRS to ban employees of certain church-affiliated organizations from participating in church retirement income account plans offered under section 403(b)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code.

“The recent Treasury Department and IRS position disregards more than 30 years of practice, precedent, and clear statutory language,” the letter said, in part. “As a result, employees of church-related nursing homes, daycare centers, summer camps, preschools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and other social service organizations stand to lose access to the unique plan features they have come to depend upon in these church plans.”

In addition, the letter raised concern about a separate, unrelated new business income tax provision in section 512(a)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code that would impose a tax on church parking lots.

The letter noted that “well-vetted and bipartisan and bicameral” legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate that would make the necessary clarifications to both sections 403(b)(9) and 512(a)(7).

It strongly encouraged the Senate to advance the legislation before the end of the year “so the resources of America’s religious communities may be properly directed and focused on their mission work.”

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