Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Recent Developments Regarding an IRS Ruling on Clergy Income Tax
The IRS ruled that three "ordained deacons" in a Methodist church, who served as the ministers of education, music, and stewardship, were "ministers" for federal tax purposes.
Federal
Key point. Persons who (1) are ordained, commissioned or licensed; (2) perform sacerdotal functions; (3) conduct worship; (4) are engaged in the "control, conduct, and maintenance of religious organizations"; and (5) who are considered to be religious leaders by their church, qualify as ministers for federal tax purposes.

The IRS ruled that three "ordained deacons" in a Methodist church, who served as the ministers of education, music, and stewardship, were "ministers" for federal tax purposes. After twenty years of study, the Church voted to establish the status of ordained deacon. Prior to this decision, elders were the only ordained members of the clergy. The Church defines ordination as the act of conferring ministerial orders. In accordance with Church traditions, an ordained minister is a baptized person who is called by God, authorized by the Church and ordained by a bishop to a lifetime ministry. To qualify for ordination as either a deacon or an elder, an individual must meet the requirements set by the Church that are specified in its governing document. In addition, to be ordained, the individual must be recommended by the regional Conference and receive the affirmative vote of the ministerial members of the Conference. Through ordination the ordained individual is given the approval of the Church to serve as an ordained minister and the authority to carry out those acts reserved to members of the clergy. As a result, following ordination, an ordained elder or deacon has the authority to exercise the responsibilities and duties of an ordained minister.

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Posted: July 1, 1999
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