Tax Question, Clergy Taxes, TaxConnections

Every Friday we post one question from our Ask Tax Question feature and invite our tax professional audience to help our visitor. The Tax Question this week is as follows:

Thank you for the article about who is considered a minister for tax purposes. I am a female whose current church does not ordain women as ministers or deacons. I am a missionary to Jamaica and just created my own ministry after serving almost a year with another ministry. My ministry’s focus is street evangelism and church planting.

If a church in Jamaica ordains me, would that count for IRS purposes or would I have to be ordained by an organization in the U.S.? I realize that we are talking case-by-case. Is there a group within the IRS that would receive a submission of review regarding ordination or status? Thank you so much for your help with this!!!

I appreciate it greatly!!



John Stancil Tax Advisor

In a 2013 count case in Wisconsin the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) challenged the Minister’s housing allowance, claiming it provided an unconstitutional subsidy of religion. They won that case, but it was overturned on appeal. The reason for overturning it was that the appeals court indicated that the FFRF did not have standing (or reason to sue) as they had not been damaged by the housing allowance law. The FFRF took it to heart and certain leaders in FFRF paid themselves a housing allowance and excluded it from tax on their individual 1040’s. The IRS disallowed some of them. This led to a new suit, heard by the same Wisconsin judge who made the 2013 ruling. Once again, she ruled the housing allowance unconstitutional.

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