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Tag Archive for Ministers

Appeals Court Upholds Clergy Housing Exemption

The 7th U S Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) that challenged the constitutionality of the clergy housing allowance. The suit was originally brought in the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin where Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the tax break for ministers was unconstitutional. Her basis for the ruling was that the law benefited religious people and no one else. The decision, which would potentially eliminate the most important tax break for ministers, was stayed pending appeal.

The law allows ministers of the gospel to exclude income tax on amounts designated by the church as housing allowance. Self-employment taxes are payable on these amounts. In addition, ministers may “double dip,” as they are allowed to deduct mortgage interest Read more

Opting Out of Social Security For A Minister

One of the tax options given to a minister is the ability to opt out of social security. This is a step that should be taken after a great deal of deliberation, as the decision is irrevocable. In order to opt out, the minister must file Form 4361 and certify that he or she opposes, either conscientiously or because of religious principles, the acceptance of any public insurance (with respect to services performed as a minister), including social security and Medicare coverage. Note that the objection is to the use of ministerial earnings for public insurance. Economic considerations or other non-religious reasons are not valid factors for opting out. Unfortunately, many likely opt out for economic reasons. Some faith groups actively promote opting out for their ministers.

The minister opts out only in relation to ministerial earnings. If he or she is employed in a Read more

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