Skip to main content

Mission Agency Basics--Getting Off on the Right Foot

Question 1:

A new nonprofit missions agency is being established and preparing to send its first missionary. Identical to established agencies, the missionaries will receive support from churches and individual donors who rely on the fiduciary and ministry accountability role of the agency. What is the responsibility of the nonprofit in withholding taxes for its missionaries?

Answer 1:

It's a delight to hear of the establishment of new mission agencies ready to contribute to the spread of the gospel. While there are many issues to tackle, let's review a couple that readers of this blog might expect to hear from a CPA.

1. Other than itinerant ministers, virtually all licensed or ordained ministers are classified as dual status. This means that they're employees in every respect, except for purposes of social security and Medicare tax obligations. For purposes of these two taxes, they are considered self-employed and responsible for their own tax determined on IRS Form 1040, Schedule SE. Because they are employees, the mission agency may establish employee benefits that independent contractors (self-employed) miss out on. Withholding is optional for these ministerial employees. The agency does not and cannot withhold and match the 7.65% FICA tax of most employees. However, at the election of its missionaries many agencies withhold federal and state income taxes to facilitate the timely payment of their taxes. Previous blog entries discuss a lot more about these issues so I encourage readers to use the Search window above to explore specifics.

2. As the mission agency establishes its corporate status and Board of Directors, it should carefully study the requirements to gain recognition from the IRS as a tax-exempt organization. Most founders will need professional help with this process including the 28-page IRS Form 1023--Application for Recognition of Exemption.

Question 2:

Are grants considered taxable or nontaxable income for nonprofits?

Answer 2:

Grants are nontaxable to the recipient mission agency that has received a Determination Letter from the IRS as the result of its Form 1023 application. Further, granting agencies will likely expect confirmation that the mission agency has been granted tax-exempt status.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Housing Allowance and Form 1099-MISC Reporting

Question:

A church provides its minister a housing allowance, but for other purposes it believes that it must report the full amount of compensation (including the non-taxable housing allowance portion) on Form 1099-MISC (in order to demonstrate the full earnings of the minister). If the church reports his compensation,including the housing allowance, on Form 1099-MISC as taxable income, will he be able to deduct his housing expenses somewhere else on the Form 1040?

Answer:

This questions brings up a couple of issues. First, most ministers are properly classified as employees who receive Form W-2, not as independent contractors who receive Form 1099-MISC. On Form W-2, Box 1 for taxable compensation is reduced reflecting the church's designation of a portion of his pay as non-taxable. Then in Box 14, it typically reports as a memorandum item his additional non-taxable, housing allowance compensation. In the situation addressed in the question, this Form W-2 reporting may or may not a…

Review: Form 1099 Payments to 501(c)(3) Organizations

Question:

A church rented space from another church last year. Should it request a completed Form W-9 and issue Form 1099-MISC?

Answer:

We have written similar blog posts on this topic in the past (listed below), but we figured it was a good time for a review. 

Payments from one 501(c)(3) organization to another 501(c)(3) organization are not subject to Form 1099-MISC reporting. The 2015 Instructions for Form 1099-MISC state that "payments to a tax-exempt organization" are exempt from reporting a Form 1099-MISC. 

The following are typical examples of payments of $600 or more by a church which are subject to reporting a Form 1099-MISC:
Rent paid to an individual (non-corporation)Payments for services rendered by individuals who are not employees (e.g. janitorial service, facilities, snow removal, guest speakers)Support sent directly to missionariesHere are some similar blog posts that we have written in the past:

Form 1099 for Payments to Other Ministries
Form 1099 for Non-profit?
Fo…

Gifts Paid Out of Church Funds: Form 1099-MISC Requirements

Question:
 A church gave a wedding gift of $1000 to a couple who are church members. No goods or services were provided by the couple in exchange for the gift.  Is a Form 1099-MISC required? 
Answer: In the following answer, we assume that the couple are not employees of the church from whom the gift could not be viewed as compensation for their services. Also, the amount seems to be small enough to avoid any concerns of "private inurement."

Accordingly, no Form 1099-MISC is required. According to the 2017 IRS Instructions for Form 1099-MISC a Form 1099-MISC is only required for payment of goods or services. The requirements are as follows:
"File Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, for each person to whom you have paid during the year:  At least $10 in royalties (see the instructions for box 2) or broker payments in lieu of dividends or tax-exempt interest (see the instructions for box 8);  At least $600 in:  1. Rents (box 1);  2. Services performed by someone who is not your …