Update: This post was updated on 5/22/14 to clarify the tax deductibility of contributions made by donors toward a trip.
Our church's CPA says that because a Holy Land trip will serve in the continuing education of our pastor, it would be a tax deductible expense, and that anyone who contributes to the pastor's trip may receive contribution credit. Is this correct?
There are two questions here: (1) Whether the trip is a tax deductible benefit for the pastor; and (2) whether donors may receive contribution credit for giving toward the trip.
Regarding the first question, Richard Hammar directly addresses it in Chapter 4 of the Church & Clergy Tax Guide. Basically, he notes many churches present their minister with an all-expense paid trip to the Holy Land. This benefit constitutes taxable income if either or both of the following statements are true:
The trip is provided to honor the minister for his or her faithful services on behalf of the church.