Ministers' Compensation & Housing Allowance (2004 IRS FAQ)

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IRS FAQ 4.10 Interest/Dividends/Other Types of Income: Ministers' Compensation & Housing Allowance



A minister receives a salary plus a housing allowance. Is the housing allowance income? Where do the minister report it?

A minister's housing allowance, sometimes called a parsonage allowance or a rental allowance, is excludable from gross income for income tax purposes, but not for self-employment tax purposes.

If you are a minister and receive as part of your salary (as a minister) an amount officially designated as a rental allowance, you can exclude from gross income the amount that is used to provide or rent a home. However, the exclusion is limited to the lesser of the fair market rental value (including furnishing, utilities, garage, etc.), the amount officially designated (in advance of payment) as a rental or housing allowance, or the actual amount used to provide a home, and cannot exceed what is reasonable pay for your services. The payments must be used in the year received.

If housing is furnished to you by your congregation as pay for your services as a minister, the exclusion cannot be more than what is reasonable pay for your services, and is limited to the fair market rental value (including furnishings, utilities, garage, etc.) of the home.

If you own your home and you receive a housing allowance as part of your pay, for your services as a minister, the exclusion cannot be more than the smaller of the following:
  • the amount actually used to provide a home,
  • the amount officially designated (in advance of payment) as a rental or housing allowance, or
  • the fair market rental value of the home, including furnishings, utilities, garage, etc.

An amount which represents reasonable pay for your services as a minister.

For additional information on housing allowance, refer to Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for the Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers. For information on earnings for clergy and reporting of self-employment tax, refer to Earnings for Clergy, Earnings for clergy.

References:


Are all ministers treated as self-employed for social security purposes?

Services that a duly ordained, commissioned or licensed minister performs in the exercise of his or her ministry are covered under the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). That means they are exempt from Social Security and Medicare withholding, but they are responsible for paying self-employment tax on their net earnings from self-employment.

There are some members of religious orders, ministers, and Christian Science practitioners who have requested and been granted exemption from self-employment tax. There are also members of religious orders who have taken a vow of poverty and ministers who are covered solely by the social security laws of another country under a social security agreement between the United States and that other country.

References:

Source: IRS.gov

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