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The Financial Struggles of Real Pastors
Most pastors feel the financial squeeze, despite the hype surrounding mega-rich celebrity pastors. "Bless Your Pastor" is one way congregations can respond.
The Financial Struggles of Real Pastors
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A TV preacher asked his flock for $54 million last year so he could buy a new private jet. One of America’s most popular pastors owns a $10.5 million mansion and drives a top-model Ferrari. And not long ago, @PreachersNSneakers was launched on Instagram to name and shame ...

Religious and Individual Giving Dipped in 2018
Newly released philanthropy report reveals decreases in giving that may, in part, be due to tax policy changes.
Religious and Individual Giving Dipped in 2018
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Individual giving took a hit in 2018, with a decline from the previous year of 1.1 percent (or a decrease of 3.4 percent when adjusted for inflation), according to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018—a highly anticipated study produced ...

With Interest Rates Up, Should Churches Borrow to Build?
Some considerations regarding debt to fund expansion or new construction.
With Interest Rates Up, Should Churches Borrow to Build?
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The News

In early 2019, Bankrate.com indicated borrowing costs continue to rise. And while a new report on May 31 suggested increasing inflation may slow increases to interest rates affecting loans, the overall view is that borrowing for the foreseeable future will cost ...

Fraudulent Email Scheme Costs One Parish $1.75 Million
Two lessons for church leaders to draw from this unfortunate story.
Fraudulent Email Scheme Costs One Parish $1.75 Million
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A Catholic parish in Ohio was a recent victim of a major fraud perpetrated through the use of fake emails. According to news reports, the church was in the midst of a large construction project. Fraudsters used emails that appeared to originate from church workers’ email ...

Minimize or Avoid Problems when Abandoning Projects with Designated Funds
Minimize or Avoid Problems when Abandoning Projects with Designated Funds
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Churches that solicit funds for designated projects face difficult choices when they abandon a project and are left with the task of disposing of funds that were donated for that project. These problems can be avoided if the church simply includes a statement similar to the ...

Communicating Financial Information
Communicating Financial Information
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In your church, there are two groups of people you need to keep in mind when sharing financial information: your congregation and your leadership.

Regarding your congregation, it’s hard to say how much is too much or too little to share. For some churches, they have a history ...

A Ruling with Three Lessons on Embezzlement
A Ruling with Three Lessons on Embezzlement
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A New York appeals court recently affirmed a trial court ruling that “a pastor who embezzled a substantial amount of church funds” had to make restitution for those funds, said attorney and CPA Richard R. Hammar in “Pastor Who Embezzled Must Make Restitution.” ...

Hey, Fletch: Is Our Church’s Overall Budget for Salaries Too High?
Excessive compensation is based on individual pay, not on the total amount budgeted for staff.
Hey, Fletch: Is Our Church’s Overall Budget for Salaries Too High?
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In this recurring Q&A, longtime executive pastor and XPastor.org founder David Fletcher takes on readers’ questions about finances, staffing, communications, and more. Submit your questions using the subject line "Hey, Fletch" to editor@churchlawandtax.com. ...

IRS Ramping Up Its Focus on Tax-Exempt Entities
IRS Ramping Up Its Focus on Tax-Exempt Entities
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The news: “IRS auditors who focus on tax-exempt groups will be kept busy this year. Among the issues they’ll be eyeing … Charities that run afoul of the private benefit and private inurement prohibitions. ... Misclassification of workers. And groups that operate ...

Seventh Circuit: Clergy Housing Allowance Is Constitutional
Appellate court reverses lower court ruling, preserving valuable tax benefit.
Seventh Circuit: Clergy Housing Allowance Is Constitutional
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After an appellate court ruled the clergy housing allowance to be constitutionally permissible in March, churches across the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief. For good reason. The allowance is the most valuable tax benefit to ministers who qualify for it. It’s ...

The New Overtime Rule Proposal: What Churches Should Note
The New Overtime Rule Proposal: What Churches Should Note
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On March 7, the US Department of Labor (DOL) “issued its long-awaited replacement of the Obama administration’s controversial overtime rule, raising the minimum salary threshold required for workers to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act's ‘white collar’ ...

A Peek Inside How Churches Spend Their Money
The trends from the past 20 years—and how you can help us better understand them in 2019.
A Peek Inside How Churches Spend Their Money
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Each month we receive questions from church leaders like you. Many of these questions share a common theme. They go something like this:

We’re a small church in Florida. We’re trying to figure out how our spending on personnel compares to other churches like us. Can ...
Don't Be Blindsided by Three "Unexpected Expenses"
Don't Be Blindsided by Three "Unexpected Expenses"
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In his blog on ChristianityToday.com, small-church pastor Karl Vaters offers these tips that could keep you from being caught off guard by three types of expenses:

  1. Set aside money every month for annual bills. Most bills come monthly. But every church has annual bills (like insurance) that we have to stop being surprised by. Any healthy church anticipates these bills and plans for them by laying some money aside every month so it’s there when the bill inevitably arrives.
What to Include in a Severance Package
What to Include in a Severance Package
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Determine what to include in a severance package by establishing your budget and reviewing the paid benefits that the employee receives. Often a severance package will include full pay, paid insurance premiums, continued contribution to retirement, and outplacement services ...

Hey, Fletch: What Should I Look for in an Online Giving Platform?
Four values every church should consider before making a choice.
Hey, Fletch: What Should I Look for in an Online Giving Platform?
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In this regular column, longtime executive pastor and XPastor.org founder David Fletcher takes on readers’ questions about finances, staffing, communications, and more. Submit your questions using the subject line "Hey, Fletch" to editor@churchlawandtax.com.

Provide a Notice to Donors
Now is a good time to give contributors this important filing information.
Provide a Notice to Donors
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Donors should be advised in the church bulletin or newsletter, on the church website, or in a letter from the church, not to file their federal income tax return before they receive their contribution summary from the church. Donors may not be able to deduct individual contributions ...

5 Numbers to Watch this Fall
5 Numbers to Watch this Fall
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September through November has always been a season of growth at the church I serve. Summer is over and temperatures start dropping, which means people are spending less time on vacation or at the lake and more time showing up to church. The kids have gone back to school, and ...

Hey, Fletch: Would We Save Money by Outsourcing Our Church’s Cleaning?
The cost may seem high, but the in-house expenses may surprise you.
Hey, Fletch: Would We Save Money by Outsourcing Our Church’s Cleaning?
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In this regular column, longtime executive pastor and XPastor.org founder David Fletcher takes on readers’ questions about finances, staffing, communications, and more. Submit your questions using the subject line "Hey, Fletch" to editor@churchlawandtax.com.

The Outsourcing Option
Why your church might want to let an outside pro handle the books.
The Outsourcing Option
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When Steve Dawson first started working with churches more than two decades ago, much of the accounting work was still being done by hand.

Churches were just starting to use computers for spreadsheets and bookkeeping software. Not everyone was convinced that was a good idea, ...

When Clothing and Household Items Are Donated
Churches may want to tell taxpayers that generosity is its own reward.
When Clothing and Household Items Are Donated
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Shoes and pants. Toasters and blenders and recliners. Donors want to drop them off at your church’s thrift store or donation center. They will often want a deduction for such noncash donations of personal property. What do you tell them?

First, you can’t tell them ...

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Church Issues: Same-Sex Marriage and Gender Identity

Church Issues: Same-Sex Marriage and Gender Identity Member access only

Richard Hammar combines research and analysis to take you through a step-by-step process regarding public accommodations laws.
Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches

Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches Member access only

Richard Hammar explains how to avoid copyright infringement.