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When Churches Neglect Payroll Taxes

Experts say this is an all-too-common problem—and one church leaders cannot ignore.

When Churches Neglect Payroll Taxes
Image: nirat | Getty

For about five years, a financial secretary for a 200-member church quit sending payroll tax money to the Internal Revenue Service.

Instead, she pocketed the funds.

When the IRS came knocking on the church’s door, it owed about $350,000, including penalties and interest, recalled Frank Sommerville, an attorney, CPA, and senior editorial advisor for Church Law & Tax.

“This individual was the sole person in charge of payroll and getting those payroll taxes paid,” Sommerville said. “So the end result was, the church had to sell its property and dissolve to pay the payroll taxes.”

In other cases, it may not be malfeasance that causes a church to neglect payroll taxes, but rather, financial problems within the congregation. Prioritizing the electric bill over the IRS, though, can have dire consequences, Sommerville warned.

A different church had a file folder marked ...

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Posted:
  • March 21, 2019

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