Click here for a short summary of the issue. Click here for a detailed timeline.
See also the Pension Rights Center website.
Click here for ex-St. Peter's CEO John Matuska's 2011 letter to the IRS.
Click here for ex-St. Peter's VP of HR Bruce Pardo's 2011 letter to the IRS.
Haga clic aqui para verun resumen del problema en español.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Saint Peter's Re-applies for Church Plan Status

In the past two weeks, Saint Peter's Retirement Plan participants have received two communications from Saint Peter's Healthcare System (SPHS) management. The first, a letter dated April 24, notified participants that a "corrected copy" of the IRS-mandated Notice to Interested Persons would soon be issued. (The Notice informs Plan participants and other stakeholders that SPHS has applied for "church plan" status to the IRS, which allows SPHS to evade federal protections – required contributions, insurance, etc. – that apply to most pension plans. SPHS filed their first notice in November 2011.) The new Notice followed on April 29.

The letter attempts to downplay the significance of the new Notice:
The first Notice stated that a ruling was requested for the plan year beginning January 1, 2006 (the year the application to the IRS was filed). The Notice should have stated that the ruling is requested for the Plan Year beginning January 1, 1974. This is the only change from the first Notice you previously received. The corrected date does not impact your rights under the Plan.
The change from 2006 to 1974 appears to be the only difference between the two notices, but this notice in effect amounts to a re-application to the IRS. Perhaps most importantly, the new Notice opens a new 60-day window for stakeholders to send comment letters to the IRS. Since the Notice was distributed on April 29, the new comment window extends until June 28, 2013. We will soon update this blog with much more information, including comment letter templates to help participants effectively communicate their concerns to the IRS.

In related news, a rare and stunning victory:  in late March the IRS overturned their 2003 decision to award "church plan" status to Hospital Center at Orange, rescuing the fund just as it was running out of money. It was this case that compelled the IRS to institute the moratorium that held up Saint Peter's application for "church plan" status from 2006 until late 2011, and to require that the participants be notified of the application. In short, they are the reason we get this chance to fight for our pensions, so we celebrate their victory. This New York Times article about the win mentions our pension plan and links to this blog. We welcome the exposure, and strive for a similar win!

More soon...

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