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403(b) Regulation Resources for Evangelical Churches

The retirement plan your church provides to your ministers and staff is a valuable benefit to them and for your church as it seeks to retain talented, energetic staff. GuideStone is ready to help your church understand and comply with the new regulations so that your church and retirement plan participants avoid adverse tax consequences.

The IRS published new regulations that fully took effect on Jan. 1, 2009.  These regulations — which impact all 403(b) plans, including church plans — are not difficult to implement if your church's retirement plan is with GuideStone. In fact, to become fully compliant, many churches will need to invest less than an hour. Below you will find explanations of the regulations that impact your church along with resources that will help you move toward compliance.

Written plan document requirement
Churches that sponsor a 403(b)(9) plan must maintain written documents that describe all material plan provisions. GuideStone provides general plan documentation for your church. However, to meet the new IRS guidelines, we sent out new plan documents in the summer of 2008. In addition, depending on the plan your church selected, your church may need to develop and maintain additional written rules and procedures that address:

  • What compensation will be considered for purposes of contributions to the plan?
  • Which employees are eligible to participate in the retirement plan?
  • What contributions will the employer/church make on behalf of employees?

GuideStone makes compliance easy!

Step 1 Determine whether or not your plan addresses compensation, eligibility and contributions by reviewing your Adoption Agreement.  If you are unsure or need an additional copy of your Adoption Agreement, please contact us.
Step 2 If your Adoption Agreement does not address compensation, eligibility and contributions, you will need to document the additional written rules and procedures. GuideStone has developed a tool to help assist with the documentation.  Simply complete, save, print and retain a copy of the Eligibility and Contribution Schedule (pdf).

Information sharing requirement
Participants, employers and plan providers have more steps to complete if your church makes contributions to more than one investment provider or allows plan participants to move money from one 403(b) investment provider to another while in-service. There are new requirements for sharing information:

  • If you allow contributions to be made to multiple investment providers, you may need to share information with the providers.
  • If you allow participants to move their account from one investment provider to another, you may need a written Information Sharing Agreement.
  • If you have multiple investment providers, identify and list all investment providers approved for ongoing contributions and those approved for contract exchanges only.

GuideStone makes compliance easy!

  • Complete, save, print and retain a copy of the Authorized Provider List (pdf) to document all providers and vendors.
  • If you make contributions to GuideStone as a sole provider and do not permit your participants to move money to other investment providers, an Information Sharing Agreement between investment providers will not be needed. Your employees can still move money from other retirement plans or IRAs tax-free through a direct rollover.

GuideStone Financial Resources has been dedicated to enhancing the financial security of our plan participants for more than 90 years. Our employees are highly experienced with church retirement plans and stand ready to help you. Please email us or call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) for additional information.

Additional resources:
Summary of the Final Regulations
Frequently Asked Questions about the 403(b) Regulations
Articles about the 403(b) Regulations
Advantages of 403(b)(9) Plans


This information should not be considered tax or legal advice. GuideStone stands ready to assist your organization as you work with your legal and tax advisers by providing resource information that you and your adviser may find beneficial.