Plan Compliance

From the Retirement Plan Specialists

Maximize the benefit of a 403(b)(9) non-ERISA retirement plan.

GuideStone® provides optimal church plan design and ongoing compliance services.

If church retirement plans are new to you, you’re not alone. There are quite a few misconceptions in the marketplace about what it means to offer a non-ERISA retirement plan. Defining it as a “nonprofit 401(k)” would be confusing, because while church plans are not subject to ERISA, there are still unique 403(b)(9) plan considerations — as well as benefits — for your employees. As a national leading 403(b)(9) church retirement plan provider, GuideStone understands all the nuances and advantages of a non-ERISA retirement plan.

By definition, a 403(b)(9) is a defined contribution plan specifically designed for the unique needs of churches or faith-based organizations. While similar to other 403(b) and 401(k) plans, 403(b)(9) church plans are not subject to certain ERISA requirements, such as annual Form 5500 reporting. This saves you money.

In addition, 403(b)(9) church plans offer retired ministers the ability to have retirement distributions designated as housing allowance. This saves your pastors money.

Lastly, you don't have to engage an outside trustee. GuideStone will serve as trustee, managing plan assets for the best interest of participants. This saves your organization money.

Beyond educating you on tax advantages, GuideStone also provides thorough plan documentation services:

  • A compliant, current plan document
  • Assistance with required legal notices and disclosures
  • Plan correction assistance
  • Ongoing plan documentation support for regulatory and legislative amendments

GuideStone’s standard retirement plan documentation includes the Basic Plan Document, Adoption Agreement, Trust and Recordkeeping Services Agreement.

Non-ERISA Retirement Plans

If you believe a 403(b)(9) retirement plan is right for your ministry, we invite you to have a discussion with one of our plan experts. It only takes a brief conversation to determine if you are providing your pastors and staff the right retirement plan for the right price.

Leverage this unique tax benefit: minister's housing allowance.

How GuideStone’s tax expertise could benefit your pastoral staff.

The minister's housing allowance is a very important tax benefit available to ministers. Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code allows Ministers for Tax Purposes to exclude some or all of their ministerial income designated by their church or church-related employer as a housing allowance from income for federal income tax purposes.

Non-ERISA Retirement Plans

For GuideStone, church plan administration and housing allowance designations are not the exception, but rather the rule. The majority of our clients — 99% in fact — utilize church plans for their retirement needs.

Our Retirement Benefits department has the expertise and experience working with ministers in retirement and helping them with housing allowance on their retirement income distributions.

Plus, each member of our Relationship and Service teams thoroughly understands housing allowance and ministerial tax issues. As a principal purpose organization, GuideStone is a leading advocate of church plans and housing allowance designations. GuideStone works with regulators and legislators in Washington to ensure the unique needs of ministry organizations are represented and protected as part of a diverse coalition of large and historic denominational pension boards.

GuideStone annually publishes a comprehensive Ministers' Tax Guide for our participants. We also provide additional resources on ministers' tax issues in our Learning Library.

GuideStone non-ERISA retirement plans can minister to your ministry.

Do Well. Do Right. Do More

Engage in a plan designed for faith-based organizations.

GuideStone exists to serve those who serve the Lord. Keeping our mission in mind, we created our retirement plans to accommodate ministry-minded organizations and promote the best outcomes for your plan participants.

A 403(b)(9) non-ERISA plan is structured specifically for church and ministry organizations. If you haven’t considered its benefits, here are a few advantages to being a non-ERISA retirement plan:

  • Elimination of nondiscrimination testing for churches and qualified church-controlled organizations
  • Elimination of testing on deferrals (replaced by universal availability requirements) for non-qualified, church-controlled organizations
  • Elimination of top-heavy testing (examining if the plan disproportionately favors certain officers/owners)
  • One set of forms and participant disclosures
  • Seamless investment mapping capabilities


Additionally, many non-ERISA retirement plans enjoy expanded contribution options:

  • Five-year, post-termination employer contributions for selected employees
  • Additional employer contribution options for employees with little or no taxable income

If you’re into the details and more technical discussion, consider downloading and reading our The Role of Church Plan Fiduciaries white paper. We trust it will show you the care and values with which we can serve you and your pastors and staff.

Discover the GUIDESTONE difference.

Preparing Employees Today for Retirement Tomorrow

GuideStone shares your mission and offers comprehensive retirement plans designed to accomplish your goals. Talk to a church plan expert about our investment flexibility, competitive pricing and exceptional service:

The right plan needs the right plan services.

While compliance, non-ERISA benefits, housing allowance and other factors are critical to shaping the best church retirement plan, it’s only the first step. Let GuideStone provide you the very best in plan services to deliver the greatest value.

Learn More About Our Recordkeeping and Administrative Services »