In light of a recent U.S. District Court finding that the pension plan of Dignity Health is not entitled to a "church plan exemption," under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), many are questioning whether future judicial interpretations of ERISA will conflict with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) readings of the law. An Aug. 4 Pension and Investments article on the subject featured Professor Norman Stein's scholarship on the subject.
"There is no question that applying the actual law . . . will create a messy situation in terms of compliance for plans that have ignored ERISA's requirements,” Stein wrote in the 2014 journal article cited by Pension and Investments. However, Stein cautioned that there must be a balance between compliance and enforcement of ERISA writing, "the situation would be far messier if more and more faux church plans are able to decline responsible funding and break promises that Congress, in ERISA, said must be kept."
Professor Stein is a nationally recognized authority on pension and tax law, Stein co-organized a Drexel Law Review symposium held at the law school in October 2013 that took a historic view of ERISA (the Employee Retirement Security Act) 40 years after its passage into law.