The housing allowance is the most important tax benefit available to ministers. But many ministers do not take full advantage of it because they (or their tax adviser or church board) are not familiar with the rules.
The three most commonly use housing arrangements for ministers are (1) owning a home, (2) renting a home or apartment, and (3) living in a church-provided parsonage. The tax code provides a significant benefit to each housing arrangement. The rules are summarized below.
Housing allowance: minister owns the home
Ministers who own their home do not pay federal income taxes on the amount of their compensation that their employing church designates in advance as a housing allowance, to the extent that the allowance represents compensation for ministerial services, is used to pay housing expenses, and does not exceed the fair rental value of the home (furnished, plus utilities). Housing-related expenses include mortgage payments, utilities, repairs, furnishings, insurance, property taxes, additions, and maintenance.