August 20, 2009

IRS Definition of "Minister"

Question:

What are the official guidelines for who qualifies as "clergy" for tax purposes?

Answer:

IRS Publication 517 defines ministers as follows:

"Ministers are individuals who are duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed by a religious body constituting a church or church denomination. They are given the authority to conduct religious worship, perform sacerdotal functions, and administer ordinances or sacraments according to the prescribed tenets and practices of that church or denomination.

"If a church or denomination ordains some ministers and licenses or commissions others, anyone licensed or commissioned must be able to perform substantially all the religious functions of an ordained minister to be treated as a minister for social security purposes."

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