Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that this statement be included in the Record upon introduction of my legislation, the Church Plan Clarification Act of 2012, with Senator Cardin.
Today, my colleague Senator Cardin and I are reintroducing this legislation, which refines the language included in our previous bill, S. 143.
Our goal is to resolve an unfortunate application of our current pension rules on church pension beneficiaries, and protect the retirement security of ministers and church lay workers.
Church pensions are critically important compensation plans that help support over one million clergy members across the country in their retirement--particularly those who dedicated their careers to serving in economically disadvantaged congregations.
Some of these plans date back to the 18th Century, and they are designed to ensure that our pastors and lay staff, who are often paid lower salaries, have adequate resources during their retirement years.
Today, denominational church plans provide benefits to an estimated one million-plus ministers, church workers, and their dependents, most of them working for small churches throughout the nation.
Church plans developed structures and mechanisms that reflect the differing church polities they serve and their unique status has been recognized in law.
However, recent IRS regulations governing 403(b) pension programs and legislative changes have resulted in uncertainty and compliance issues for church pension plans. In response, Senator Cardin and I sent a letter to the Internal Revenue Service informing them of our legislation, nothing that the unintended consequences of their regulations may negatively affect church ministers and church lay workers.
I hope we can work to provide clarity for these distinctive plans and resolve this issue before the end of the year.
This unequal treatment is simply unfair, and it is time we correct it.
I ask my colleagues to join Senator Cardin and me today in establishing parity for the beneficiaries of church pensions by supporting this necessary, long overdue fix to the Internal Revenue Code.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD,
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