How to Finish 2017 Strong
Get a head start on year-end tasks.
How to Finish 2017 Strong
Image: Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash

The holidays are just around the corner—and unfortunately, the rush of the season can shift the focus away from essential tasks that need to be accomplished before the New Year.

This year, don’t be caught off guard when the end of December rolls around. Instead, jump into this season with a task list in hand. To start, these three guidelines can help you:

  1. Set clergy housing allowances. If your church gives a housing allowance, it’s important to designate the amount annually. As the year wraps up, be sure to compare actual housing expenses to what you’ve designated to be sure you're setting the correct amount. If your minister’s expenses exceed what was designated, they may not be eligible to receive the full tax benefit. You can always amend your church’s housing allowance or even add one if you haven’t yet, but the housing allowance designation can't be made retroactively. For more help with parsonages and housing allowances, check out Chapter 6 of the annual Church & Clergy Tax Guide.
  2. Thank your staff for all they've done this year. Make sure your staff feels appreciated for all the work they’ve done this year. Show your appreciation by giving Christmas gifts and throwing a staff Christmas party. "Be sure to handle correctly any Christmas gifts made by the church or congregation to a minister or lay staff member," writes Richard Hammar. "In most cases these transfers represent taxable income and not a tax-free gift, and must be reported as income on the recipient’s W-2 form."
  3. Take time to reflect on the “reason for the season.” With so much to get done at this time of year, it’s easy to only think about the tasks in front of you—which means stopping and taking time to remember why you do what you do is even more important.

This is only the beginning of a year-end checklist. For more information on critical end-of-year tasks, including handling contributions and tax preparation, join our free webinar featuring Richard R. Hammar.

Note: Want to ask Hammar a question about charitable contributions, housing allowances, and other year-end tasks? Submit your question by Friday, November 3, 2017. During the webinar, Hammar will answer a limited number of these pre-submitted questions from participants. Once you’ve signed up for the webinar, you can submit your question via email to editor@churchlawandtax.com.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

Recent Posts
Subscribe to Church, Law & Tax
Dismissing Employees and Volunteers

Dismissing Employees and Volunteers

How to handle personnel problems
Sex Offenders in the Church - Part 1

Sex Offenders in the Church - Part 1

How to respond to sex offenders in the church.