What qualifies as a church business lunch?
What qualifies as a church business lunch?

A group of local pastors meet once a week for Bible study, and afterward some of them go out for lunch together. Assuming the conversation isn't entirely business related, would that meal be considered a business expense and reimbursable under an accountable expense reimbursement plan? Or should our pastor be paying for those lunches with his personal credit card?

The lunch likely does not qualify as a business expense because it is not necessary for conducting church business.

All reimbursed business expenses must be "ordinary and necessary" to qualify as church business. "Ordinary" means that the expense is the type of expense ordinarily incurred by churches conducting their business. This requirement is met. "Necessary" means that it is necessary to incur the expense in order to conduct the church's business. If the lunch was required as part of the Bible study, then it would meet the necessary component. Assuming that the lunch is a voluntary social occasion, then the lunch is not necessary for the pastor to attend and, therefore, personal. And if it is personal, it cannot be reimbursed under an accountable expense reimbursement plan.

Log In For Full Access

Interested in becoming a member? Learn more.

Related Topics:
From Issue:
View All
from our store
2019 Church & Clergy Tax Guide

2019 Church & Clergy Tax Guide

Find comprehensive help understanding United States tax laws as they relate to pastors and churches.
Charitable Contributions Bulletin Inserts

Charitable Contributions Bulletin Inserts

Help your members give more by answering their charitable giving and tax law questions.

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.