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Issues that affect ministers and churches
Tax Court Rejects Pastor's Attempt to Avoid Taxes Through Vow of Poverty, Salary Renunciation
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Key point. Ministers cannot avoid taxes by making a vow of poverty, renouncing a salary, and having their church pay for all of their expenses, if they maintain effective control over the payment of expenses.

The United States Tax Court rejected an attempt by a pastor to avoid income taxes by making a "vow of poverty," renouncing a salary, having his church pay all of his expenses, but retaining effective control over the funds. In 2001 a pastor recommended to his church's board of advisers that the church be restructured to include a "corporation sole" as an office of the church. The board of advisers unanimously agreed with this recommendation, and a nonprofit corporation sole was created in the name of "the Office of Presiding Head Apostle" currently held by the pastor. The church was located in Florida, which does not recognize corporations sole, so the corporation sole was established under the laws of Nevada

Later that year, the pastor signed a document titled "Vow of Poverty" in which he agreed to divest his property and future income to the church and in turn the church would provide for his physical, financial, and personal needs. By resolution, the church resolved that "the church accepts … the pastor's declaration and will provide all his needs as Apostle of this church ministry," and affirmed that "the church shall pay his housing, all ministry expenses, and any other needs necessary for his care." The church established an apostolic bank account, and the pastor had "signatory authority over this account for his use."

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