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The 10 Commandments of Church Management
Apply these principles to stay legal and keep your witness intact.
The 10 Commandments of Church Management
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I. Thou shalt not allow the church's intellectual property to be used for personal purposes.

Rule: Under the work for hire doctrine, any property developed within the scope of the job duties of an employee is the property of the employer.

Practice Tip: An intellectual property ...
Are Churches Legally Required to Issue Statements for Every Contribution?
Reader: What about a one-time donation of only $10?
Are Churches Legally Required to Issue Statements for Every Contribution?
Image: Lukas Blazek / Unsplash

We recently fielded this question from a church administrator in Virginia:

Is there a minimum gift amount for which a contribution statement must be issued? For instance, if someone visited the church one Sunday and dropped a $10 check in the offering plate, is the church obligated ...
Not All Noncash Gifts for Silent Auctions Are Tax Deductible
Donations of vacation property do not result in a charitable write-off.
Not All Noncash Gifts for Silent Auctions Are Tax Deductible
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The News

From the June 28, 2019, issue of Kiplinger Tax Letter:

Think twice before donating to charity the right to use your vacation home. Charities such as schools and churches often use such places as prizes for dinners, galas or auctions that they sponsor to raise funds for ...
Hey, Fletch: Are Discounts to Church Events Taxable Income?
Understanding what IRS Publication 15-B and IRC Section 132(a)(2) does and doesn’t say.
Hey, Fletch: Are Discounts to Church Events Taxable Income?
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We want to offer all staff who work 32 hours a week or more discounts to church retreats and functions. Does the “employee discounts” exclusion outlined in IRS Publication 15-B apply or must discounts be treated as taxable income to the employees? The publication ...

Atheist Organization Opts Not to Appeal Housing Allowance Ruling
Group says its arguments hold merit, but success at Supreme Court unlikely.
Atheist Organization Opts Not to Appeal Housing Allowance Ruling
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The atheist nonprofit group challenging tax-free housing allowances for qualifying ministers says it is ending its fight for now.

In a statement issued Friday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said it will not seek review from the US Supreme Court after an appellate ...

Unpaid Payroll Taxes: A Hidden Liability for Churches and Leaders
A recent case in the for-profit world underscores the potential threat.
Unpaid Payroll Taxes: A Hidden Liability for Churches and Leaders
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The News

“A company’s CFO is liable for its past-due employment taxes, a court says. He had control over the company’s bank account and oversaw all aspects of the firm’s operations and finances, including payroll, tax return preparation and personnel matters. ...

Bipartisan Effort to Repeal Tax on Fringe Benefits for Nonprofits Gains Momentum
Bipartisan Effort to Repeal Tax on Fringe Benefits for Nonprofits Gains Momentum
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The news: “Bipartisan legislation to repeal a 21-percent tax on the value of fringe benefits, such as free parking or mass transit assistance, has been introduced [recently] in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. The provision was part of the 2017 Tax ...

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 ...

Miami Church Hit with $7 Million Tax Bill
Miami Church Hit with $7 Million Tax Bill
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“The First Presbyterian Church of Miami, the oldest organized congregation in the city, has been hit with a $7.1 million tax bill by the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser, which claims the church has leased a portion of church grounds to a for-profit school and food trucks, ...

IRS Announces 2019 Mileage Rates
Church leaders can track and report mileage for proper reimbursement.
IRS Announces 2019 Mileage Rates
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Correction: An earlier version of this article has been changed to reflect accurate information.

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the new standard mileage rates for 2019. Starting on January 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup, or ...

IRA and 401(k) Contribution Limits Went up for 2019
The IRS issued guidance for cost-of-living increases.
IRA and 401(k) Contribution Limits Went up for 2019
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The Internal Revenue Service announced a cost-of-living adjustment to the annual contribution limits for retirement vehicles for the 2019 tax year. The plans and accounts affected include Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) as well as 401(k), 403(b), and many 457 plans. ...

The Minister and the Church’s Payroll Tax Obligations
Key tips on navigating withholding.
The Minister and the Church’s Payroll Tax Obligations
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For employers, the Internal Revenue Code defines payroll tax obligations in two primary areas: (1) federal income tax withholding and (2) Social Security/Medicare tax withholding. The Code determines what income is subject to taxes and the related withholding of the taxes.

Hey, Fletch: How Does the New Tax Law Affect Moving Expenses?
What the changed rules mean for churches.
Hey, Fletch: How Does the New Tax Law Affect Moving Expenses?
Image: Erwan Hesry / Unsplash

In this biweekly column, longtime executive pastor and XPastor.orgfounder 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 ...

What’s the Status of the Clergy Housing Allowance?
Updates on court timelines, the appeal, and more.
What’s the Status of the Clergy Housing Allowance?
Image: Alexander Andrews / Unsplash

The ministerial housing allowance is “the most important tax benefit available to ministers”—but since October 2017, that benefit has faced an uncertain future.

A refresher: On October 6, Judge Barbara Crabb of the District Court for the Western District of ...

Hey, Fletch: Are We Tax Exempt?
What does the IRS say about tax-exempt status for churches?
Hey, Fletch: Are We Tax Exempt?
Image: Colin Maynard / Freely Photos

In this biweekly column, longtime executive pastor and XPastor.orgfounder 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.

I ...

Pastors Can No Longer Itemize Deductions for Business Expenses
What you should know in light of recent tax reform.
Pastors Can No Longer Itemize Deductions for Business Expenses
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The following insights are drawn from an analysis by Richard Hammar and interviews with Frank Sommerville, an attorney, CPA, and editorial advisor, and Ted Batson, an attorney and CPA with the accounting firm CapinCrouse. Read the full analysis, “Integrating Tax Reform ...

A Closer Look at the Housing Allowance
What this tax benefit means for churches nationwide.
A Closer Look at the Housing Allowance
Image: Qusai Akoud / Unsplash

For qualifying ministers, the housing allowance is an invaluable tax benefit—in fact, according to attorney and Church Law & Tax senior editor Richard Hammar, it’s “the most important tax benefit available to ministers.”

In October 2017, however, a ...

Deadlines Extended for Forms 1095-B and 1095-C
IRS pushes due date to March 2018.
Deadlines Extended for Forms 1095-B and 1095-C
Image: Sonja Langford / Unsplash

The IRS has announced extended deadlines for two forms: 1095-B and 1095-C.

The IRS notice (released on December 22, 2017) states the new deadline as March 2, 2018; the original deadline had been January 31, 2018.

However, the electronic filing deadlines of February 28 or April ...

The GOP Tax Bill Just Passed. Here’s What Church Leaders Need to Know.
Three tax experts weigh in.
The GOP Tax Bill Just Passed. Here’s What Church Leaders Need to Know.
Image: Jorge Alcala / Unsplash

On December 20, the Republican bill overhauling the tax code passed a final vote in the House and went to President Trump’s desk. What implications does the new bill have for churches and church leaders, and what do they need to be aware of as they plan for 2018? To help ...

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Managing the Legal Risks of Lay Counseling

Managing the Legal Risks of Lay Counseling Member access only

Develop specific policies and procedures that protect your church, lay caregivers, and those who receive care.
Safe Hiring Practices for Ministries

Safe Hiring Practices for Ministries  Member access only

Essential items to consider before you bring new clergy or staff on board.