- If a minister is an employee under the so-called “common law employee test,” he or she is taken into account in determining an employer’s FTEs for purposes of the health care tax credit. Also, premiums paid by the church for the health insurance coverage of a minister who is an employee can be taken into account in computing the credit, subject to limitations on the credit. If the minister is self-employed for income tax reporting purposes he or she is not taken into account in determining an employer’s FTEs or premiums paid.
- Compensation paid to ministers who are employees for duties performed in the exercise of their ministry is not subject to FICA taxes and is not wages subject to income tax withholding. As a result, their wages are not taken into account for purposes of computing average annual wages.
- The fact that ministers are taken into account in determining a church’s FTE count, but their wages are not considered in computing the average annual wages paid by a church, makes it more likely that some churches will benefit from the credit since the generally higher wages paid to ministers are removed from consideration.
- See chapter 2 in Richard Hammar’s Church & Clergy Tax Guide for a full explanation of the common law employee test. This is one of the tests used by the IRS and the courts in determining a minister’s reporting status for federal income tax reporting purposes. Also, see the Feature Report titled, “A Valuable Tax Credit for Churches,” to learn more on how your church may be able to save money on health coverage. Both resources are available on ChurchLawAndTaxStore.com.
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