Our church is currently interviewing for an organist position. The salary we can provide is only part-time and one of the candidates, looking for more income, requested permission to give lessons at the church using the piano and organ. Would it be unwise for our church to grant this candidate’s request?
There are two possible solutions to your situation. First, your church may offer organ/piano lessons to the community as part of its educational programs. The church could set and collect the fees for the lessons from the students. This may generate additional income so that your church can afford to hire the organist to a full-time position.
It is important to note that your church may not allow any individual to use church assets to further their private business without fair compensation to the church. In practice, the church could rent the organ/piano to the individual and allow that person to give lessons using church assets.
Essentially, as long as the rent charged equals fair market value, then the church can authorize the private use of church assets. However, this arrangement will generate unrelated business income and may cause the church to lose its property tax exemption on the rented asset. I do not recommend this option.
To learn more, see the downloadable resource Understanding Unrelated Business Income.
Frank Sommerville is an attorney and shareholder in the law firm of Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P. C. in Houston and Dallas, Texas, and an Editorial Advisor for Church Law & Tax.