Is it allowable for a minister to use funds from his professional expense reimbursement plan to pay for the registration of his wife at a Christian conference?
Can the minister and his wife be classified as a “ministry team” and therefore allow such an expense?
IRS Publication 463 indicates that an employer cannot deduct payments (or reimbursements, including those through an accountable plan) for a spouse accompanying an employee "on a business trip or to a business convention," unless that spouse is also 1) its employee, 2) has a bona fide business purpose for the travel, and 3) would otherwise be allowed to deduct the travel expenses."
These rules also apply to tax-exempt employers (e.g. churches) even though they are unconcerned about losing deductions since they pay no income tax in the first place (Federal Tax Regulation 1.132-5 (t)(2).
However, this does not necessary give the whole picture. Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 1996-26, Regulation 1.132-5(t)…