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What Churches Should Know about the Tax Relief Act
How Social Security taxes, other benefits are affected.

On December 17, Congress passed the "The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010." After President Obama signed it into law, numerous tax provisions that were about to expire were kept alive. And a significant benefit for many employees–a ...

Tax Ruling May Help Pastors Who Own Two Homes
What churches should note for 2011 housing allowances.

Late in 2010, the United States Tax Court ruled a pastor could apply a housing allowance toward expenses incurred from a primary residence and a vacation home.

What are the implications for church leaders? Well, while many may not own a vacation home, many may find themselves ...

National Commission to Examine Church Financial Practices
ECFA will lead independent inquiry at Sen. Grassley’s request

Editor's Update (12/8/11): The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations is now taking public comments on the various issues it is studying.

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Editor's Update (4/27/2011): The ECFA has announced the initial members of ...

Upcoming Webinar: Key Tax Changes to Understand
Richard Hammar and Dan Busby tackle key questions for churches.

Members of Congress passed a sizable tax-cut package late on December 17, and it barely hit President Obama's desk the next day before he signed it into law. According to one media report, the package extends, adds, or modifies nearly 25 significant tax benefits for a wide range ...

Deadline Nears for Pastors' Housing Designations
Act now so that pastors can receive this tax benefit in 2011.

Churches must designate a portion of each minister's compensation as a housing allowance by December 31 in order for ministers who own or rent their homes to receive the full benefit of a housing allowance exclusion for calendar year 2011. The designation should be adopted during ...

Endorsing Political Candidates from the Pulpit
A new LifeWay survey shows pastors strongly oppose endorsements.

A majority of pastors believe churches should not publicly endorse political candidates, a new LifeWay Research survey shows.

Phone interviews conducted randomly in early October with 1,000 church pastors, ministers, and priests revealed 70 percent strongly disagreed and 14 ...

30% Discount on Church Law, Tax, and Finance Resources
Sale in honor of church administration day on October 21.

Our friends at the National Association for Church Business Administration have designated Thursday, October 21, as "National Church Administration Day." As NACBA explains it on its website:

"The idea behind National Church Administration Day is for seasoned church leaders to ...
Medical Allowances and Health Savings Accounts
Can churches legally designate medical allowances for pastor health plans?

Question: We are entertaining the idea of changing our health care coverage to a HSA (Health Saving Account)-compatible policy. Presently our three pastors receive a designated amount of medical allowances each year to help them cover the costs of out-of-pocket moneies that ...

Legislation Drops Cell Phones from "Listed Property"
But churches shouldn't make changes until the IRS issues its guidance.

The small business tax relief legislation just passed by Congress and signed by the president includes a long-awaited provision removing cell phones from "listed property" under federal tax law effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2009. As a result, the stringent ...

Case Threatens Pastor Housing Allowances
How a California court may alter a long-standing ministry benefit.

Earlier this month, we covered eight federal issues that local churches should watch closely during the remainder of 2010 and into 2011, according to recent remarks from Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Busby, one of our editorial ...

Struggling Cities Eye Taxes, Fees for Churches

Like countless other municipalities throughout the country, Fort Wayne, Indiana, is struggling to find ways to bridge the gap between declining tax revenue and the costs of maintaining infrastructure and services.

What makes Fort Wayne stand out is the city's mayor, Tom Henry. ...

Discerning Eyes for Church Law, Finance, and Administration
Known, respected leaders to help guide CTI resources.

Christianity Today International's church management division, which publishes Your Church magazine, the Church Law & Tax Report and Church Finance Today newsletters, plus resources, such as the annual Church & Clergy Tax Guide and ChurchSafety.com, recently formed two important ...

IRS Announces Standard Business Mileage Rate for 2010
Rates slightly drop as transportation costs ease.

The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2010 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2010, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car ...

Free Excerpt: The Essential Guide to Church Finances

Earlier this year, we released The Essential Guide to Church Finances by Richard Vargo, a professor of accounting in the Eberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, and Vonna Laue, a partner at nonprofit accounting firm Capin Crouse.

Below is a free excerpt, ...

Study: Donations Grow 42% With Face-to-Face Time
Research underscores the power of relationships for church leaders.

A new study about the best ways to secure larger gifts from donors strongly reinforces the central theme of "Asking for Big Gifts," an article in the current issue of Your Church: face-to-face time matters. A lot.

In fact, it matters so much, the study reveals "donors to religious ...

Pinched Paychecks

About half the nation's full-time pastors report they received no salary increase in the past year, continuing a downturn in salaries among top leaders in churches, according to a new survey published by Christianity Today International. In fact, the extensive survey, publishing ...

Richard R. Hammar

Richard Hammar is senior editor for Church Law & Tax Report, and Church Finance Today. He serves as legal counsel to the Assembly of God denomination. He is an attorney and CPA, specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he ...

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