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Q&A: Is a Pastor's Holy Land Trip Tax Deductible?

It’s essential to know the difference between vacation and business expenses.

Our church's CPA says that because a Holy Land trip will serve in the continuing education of our pastor, it would be a tax-deductible expense. Is this correct?

The answer is no. Many churches present their minister with an all-expense paid trip to the Holy Land. This benefit constitutes taxable income if either or both of the following statements are true:

  • The trip is provided to honor the minister for his or her faithful services on behalf of the church.
  • The trip is provided to enhance or enrich the minister's ministry. While a trip to the Holy Land can benefit one's ministry, such a trip is not a business expense under current law. The tax code provides that "no deduction shall be allowed … for expenses for travel as a form of education" IRC 274(m)(2).

The church's payment of the cost of such a trip is treated as the payment of personal vacation expenses, ...

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  • June 17, 2014

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