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Q&A: Do Lapsed Credentials Affect a Minister’s Housing Allowance?

No precedent exists, so here’s what to look at.

Our minister's ordained status lapsed for a few months this year due to his failure to timely renew his credentials with our denomination. How does this affect his housing allowance for the year?

Technically a housing allowance is only available to an "ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister." So, if a minister's credentials lapse due to some technical defect, the allowance is not available for that period of time.

However, if and when the credential is reinstated, an argument could be made that it "relates back" to the beginning of the year and "corrects" the technical defect that caused the lapse. For the same reason, I would argue that a minister whose credentials lapsed temporarily could still perform marriages and baptisms, qualify for the clergy privilege, and perform other sacerdotal functions during the time his or her credentials lapsed.

No court has ever addressed this issue, so no definitive answer is possible. Further consultation with a qualified tax professional is advised.

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

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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Posted:
  • June 23, 2015

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