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IRS Guidance Issued on Business Meals, Moving Expenses
Van crash, sex-abuse woes also headline recent church-related news.
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IRS Guidance Clarifies Tax Treatment of Business Meals, Moving Expenses

The Internal Revenue Service issued separate statements in September and October providing guidance with respect to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017’s effects on business meals and moving expenses. Regarding business meals, nonprofit CPA firm CapinCrouse said the IRS guidance “conclusively [states] meals are deductible. The rules for deducting meals have not changed unless the meal occurs in the context of entertainment, such as at a sporting event or a theater.” Regarding moving expenses, “employee reimbursements or payments an employer makes in 2018 for qualified moving expenses incurred in a prior year are not subject to federal income or employment taxes” for the 2018 tax-filing year, presuming they were not already claimed in a prior tax year, according to CapinCrouse. However, the Act’s suspension of the tax-free reimbursement applies to moving expenses paid for or reimbursed in 2018 and beyond, the firm said (“IRS Clarifies Deductibility of Business Meals” and “IRS Clarifies Taxability of 2017 Moving Expenses,” CapinCrouse).

Editor’s note: These clarifications are also mentioned in the article “Richard Hammar Reviews Top 10 Tax Changes.”

Three Killed When Missouri Church’s 15-Passenger Van Crashes

“Three teens were killed and 10 others injured when a [Missouri] church van skidded off the roadway after its rear tire blew out [in August],” according to The Kansas City Star. The church’s youth pastor, who was driving the van at the time of the crash, suffered moderate injuries, the paper reported. The van was a 2001 GMC G3500, according to the newspaper (“IDs released for 3 KC-area teens killed in church van crash in southern Missouri,” The Kansas City Star).

The model in the accident was a 15-passenger van, a type of vehicle the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deems “cumbersome” and “can pose a safety risk.” Attorney and senior editor Richard Hammar recommends churches not use these vehicles.

Megachurch Paid $3.25 Million in Sex-Abuse Settlements

“Willow Creek Community Church agreed to pay more than $3 million to settle lawsuits over the sexual abuse of two developmentally disabled boys by a church volunteer, court records [from August] show,” according to the Chicago Tribune. “[The volunteer] is serving a seven-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2014. . . . The civil lawsuits filed against the church by the families . . . [said] the church should have acted on warning signs before he molested his second victim. . . . Church policy called for there to be at least two adult volunteers with any single child at all times” but the volunteer “repeatedly broke that rule, the lawsuits alleged.” The lawsuits also alleged a church worker previously raised concerns to the church about the emotional health of the volunteer, and other church workers provided statements during court proceedings that alleged inadequate resources, staffing, and training to ensure safety. During the case, church officials said the volunteer underwent “a rigorous background check.” Despite agreeing to the settlements, Willow Creek said in a statement it denied the allegations of negligence and damages. The church also said it has been working with law enforcement and security experts to learn how the abuses occurred and how to prevent future abuses (“Willow Creek paid $3.25M to settle lawsuits over child sex abuse by church volunteer,” Chicago Tribune).

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