The Top 10 Articles on Church Law & Tax in 2021

HR topics of greatest interest; plus the 5 top viewed webinars.

The coronavirus pandemic remained front and center throughout 2021. While the country felt some relief with the growing numbers of the population vaccinated, preventive measures like masking, social distancing, and online services continued in many churches. The economy continued to struggle from the effects of the pandemic, with rising prices leaving many worried about the possibility of out-of-control and long-term inflation.

As reflected by two of our top articles and one of our leading webinars, church leaders continued to look for financial assistance from federal pandemic-relief programs. Also reflecting the financial concerns among readers, our coverage of a key loan forgiveness program garnered much interest as clergy and other church workers looked for ways to reduce lingering student loan debt. Additionally, one of our top webinars addressed the financial challenges and changes brought about by the pandemic.

We believe many of our top articles and webinars will be helpful to churches in 2022 as they continue to deal with the difficult financial dynamics created by the pandemic and other economic-related issues.

Our other top content from 2021 will be valuable to many churches in the months to come as they anticipate summer internships, seek a better understanding of housing allowances, and seek help with employee issues unique to churches, among other areas of interest represented by both lists.

The list of the ten most-viewed articles is generally based on unique page views and starts with the tenth-most uniquely viewed piece and ends with the article that received the most unique page views. Our 2021 list includes two Recommended Reading pages, which are collections of articles focused on specific topics.

Our list of top webinars in 2021 follows our article list, starting with the webinar that had the fifth-highest attendance and ending with the webinar with the highest attendance.

10. Internships: Blessings or Blind Spots?
Here’s how churches can avoid tripping up on important legal, tax, and risk management issues with interns.
By Frank Sommerville

9. IRS: Churches with Employer Identification Numbers Must Keep Information Current
Prompt updates can help avoid unnecessary interest charges and penalties, deter fraudulent activity.
By The Editors

8. Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay Requirements May Apply to More Church Employees
A look at how the recent withdrawal of the Independent Contractor Rule by the Biden administration affects churches.
By Richard R. Hammar

7. The Top 6 Church Management Conferences for 2021
These events focus on key legal, finance updates for church leaders nationwide.
By the Editors

Note: Be sure to see our new list of 2022 conferences.

6. Applying the Ministerial Exception to Church Employees
Understanding this key legal doctrine, how it works, and when it matters—or doesn’t—for specific positions.
By Frank Sommerville

5. Housing Allowance Basics
Understanding the most important tax benefit available to ministers.
A Recommended Reading page featuring Richard R. Hammar, Vonna Laue, Ted R. Batson Jr, and Frank Sommerville

4. Four Key Employee Issues Unique to Churches—and How to Navigate Them
How the ministerial exception, job descriptions, internships, and employee handbooks can make your ministry sink or swim.
A Recommended Reading page featuring Frank Sommerville

3. How Churches May Benefit from COVID-19 Relief’s Employee Retention Credit
If certain criteria are met, congregations, nonprofits, and schools are potentially eligible to receive thousands of dollars.
By Kaylyn Varnum, Michele Wales, and Mike Batts

2. Key Loan Forgiveness Program Change May Help Church Workers with Student Debt
Education department expands eligibility after 2017 Trinity Lutheran decision—but acceptance is still no certainty.
By Matthew J. Branaugh

1. What the New Coronavirus Stimulus Package Means for Churches
New law clarifies PPP loan forgiveness process and extends PPP loan program, among other provisions.
By Ted R. Batson Jr

Top five webinars (on-demand videos)

5. The Basics of Running a Legally Sound Church Business Meeting
Attorneys Richard Hammar and Sarah E. Merkle discuss best practices for implementing and following parliamentary procedures.
Featuring Richard R. Hammar and Sarah E. Merkle

4. Fraud in the Church: What We Learned from 700 Church Leaders
Discover the results of our 2021 church fraud survey and the best practices for reducing vulnerabilities.
Featuring Vonna Laue and Matthew Branaugh

3. Significant Source of Federal Funds for Eligible Churches
Determining whether your church qualifies for the Employee Retention Credit.
Featuring Michael E. Batts and Kaylyn Varnum

2. Church and Nonprofit Ministry Finance: Planning for the New Normal
Discussing the challenges and changes the pandemic has brought and what it means for leaders.
Featuring Mike Batts

1. Avoiding Unexpected Surprises with Church Compensation
Asking and answering key questions about housing, love gifts, sabbatical plans, expense reimbursements, and other situations that churches face.
Featuring Elaine L. Sommerville

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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