Churches are not exempt from registering with CalSavers

Published Feb 16, 2021

All employers in California, including churches, must file by June 30. 2022 with CalSavers, a retirement plan for employees whose employers do not offer a qualified retirement savings plan. Launched in July 2019, all employers with five or more employees must register with the CalSavers program.

The registration deadline is based on the number of church employees. Here are filing deadlines based on the number of church employee:

Employees                               Registration Deadline

Over 100 employees                 September 30, 2020 (this has already past)

Over 50 employees                   June 30, 2021

Five or more employees            June 30, 2022

Churches or other nonprofit employers are not exempt from registering. There is a severe, per employee, monetary penalty for failure to register. Employees, however, may voluntarily opt-out of saving for their retirement.

There is good news for California Southern Baptist churches, thanks to GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and its Church Retirement Plan.

SBC-affiliated churches are eligible for exemption from participation, but not registration, in the CalSavers plan because all paid church personnel are eligible to participate in the GuideStone Church Retirement Plan, a tax qualified 403(b)(9) tax-deferred savings program. However, the church must establish an employer account with GuideStone.

Southern Baptist church employees have the choice to contribute to the GuideStone Plan with pre-tax income or through after-tax contributions into a Roth account.

For Southern Baptist pastors, there are additional benefits for funding a GuideStone traditional 403(b)(9) account. The first is the ability to receive withdrawals from the Church Retirement Plan in full or in part as housing allowance, which is not subject to income tax.

Additionally, senior pastors of CSBC cooperating churches who contribute a minimum of $600 per year to their retirement account automatically are eligible for the GuideStone Protection Benefit–a combination of death benefit up to $100,000 and disability income benefit up to $50,000. Cooperating churches are those which contribute at least $600 per year through Cooperative Program giving to CSBC.

All churches with five or more employees must register with the CalSavers program. When registering, SBC churches may request exemption from the program based on their ability to offer the GuideStone Church Retirement Plan to their employees. 

Read the expanded article to learn more about retirement benefits through GuideStone or becoming a cooperating CSBC congregation.For information on mandatory registration with CalSavers and how to obtain exemption from participation, or information on becoming a Cooperating CSBC Congregation, contact the CSBC HR & Church Compliance Ministry by calling 559-256-0858 or emailing