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Are Ministers Employees or Self-Employed?

Learn about the employment status of ministers.

The Tax Court issues an important decision—Greene v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 1996-531 (1996)

Article summary. Ministers have a "dual" tax status. For social security purposes they always are self-employed with respect to services performed in the exercise of ministry. However, for federal income tax reporting purposes most ministers are employees. There are exceptions to this rule, as a recent decision by the Tax Court illustrates. The Court ruled that an Assemblies of God foreign missionary was self-employed for income tax reporting purposes. The Court's decision will be a helpful precedent not just to foreign missionaries, but to pastoral ministers as well. The Court's ruling is fully analyzed in this feature article.

Are ministers employees or self-employed for federal income tax reporting purposes? This is an important question. In fact, the "audit guidelines ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • May 1, 1997

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