Michael A. Webb, Vice President, Retirement Plan Services, Cammack LaRhette Consulting, answers:
Unlike 457(b) plans, where independent contractors are permitted to participate, Code Section 403(b)(1)(A) limits participation in 403(b) plans to employees of a 501(c)(3) organizations, employees of public schools, and ministers. Thus not only are independent contractors of a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization prohibited from participating in a 403(b) plan, independent contractors of any sort are excluded from 403(b) plan participation, though self employed ministers may participate.
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