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Can 403(b)(9) Retirement Income Accounts Be Church Plans or Can They Offer a MEP?

Q. SECURE 2.0 allows 403(b) plans (other than church plans) to participate in multiple employer plans (MEPs) and pooled employer plans (PEPs) in plan years starting after Dec. 31, 2022. Are 403(b)(9)-retirement income accounts included in this definition of church plans or would they be allowed to offer a MEP? 

A. SECURE 2.0, as enacted, only added MEPs/PEPs/Consortium language for 403(b)s under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 403(b)(15), and not under IRC Section 413, which contains the provisions for qualified plan MEPs. 

In addition, even before SECURE 2.0, the IRS permitted plans to define the plan as a MEP. 

Under a church plan, you can have different employers that are a part of the same religious organization — depending on the plan document, they can be called participating employers or locations if the employer treats them as being a part of the plan sponsor. 

SECURE 2.0 also added a section that basically says that churches can use the rule, but we will not receive model plan language. There are 403(b)(9) documents that have been IRS approved with the MEP  language in there already.