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Disclosing Church Salaries

Do churches need to publicly report church employee's pay, including the pastor?

Can the salaries of church employees, including the pastor, be disclosed to the congregation in financial reports? Does the privacy act apply to church salaries?

No statute requires church employee salaries to be disclosed to the public. In general, no statute requires the salaries of individual church employees to be disclosed to members in financial reports.

Members may have a right under state law to receive "books and records" for a proper purpose after reasonable written notice. Whether "books and records" includes the disclosure of individual salaries will be determined by the proper purpose.

Churches are exempt from filing Form 990. If the church elects to file Form 990, the church must disclose the individual compensation of certain employees.

This response was prepared on 3/8/2010. It is provided as information and not to be considered legal advice.

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March 24, 2010

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October 12, 2015  10:06pm

I agree with wjs, the information provided is somewhat vague. What constitutes "proper use" and what is "reasonable time" for the written request for information. Are the members of the congregation not the employers of the staff and the ones who provide the money for the salaries and why should they not receive disclosure?

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February 16, 2012  9:44pm

Unfortunately, Mr. Sommerville didn't answer the question. The question was whether the salaries of church employees can be disclosed to the congregation in the financial report, not whether they must be disclosed.

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