October 30, 2012

Contacting the IRS Regarding Altered Form 4361

Question:

A church treasurer recently was handed a Form 4361 by his church's youth minister. It appeared to have been altered. Can the treasurer contact the IRS to get verification of the approval?

Answer:
  
Regardless of the youth pastor’s success or failure to gain an exemption from self-employment (SE) tax on ministerial earnings (by virtue of his successful Form 4361 application), the church’s treatment of his wages is unaffected. By definition, a minister is a dual status employee. This means that he is considered self-employed for purposes of SE tax. He is not subject to nor eligible for FICA tax withholding and matching by the church. If he fails to pay his own SE tax on his personal return and it is determined by the IRS that he has no Form 4361 approval, he will be facing a very large tax penalty and interest assessment.

Our website provides an aid to preparing a church's Forms W-2. They are prepared in exactly the same way whether or not the pastor has opted out of SE tax.Select the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation entitled Church and Christian Ministry Compensation Concepts. by following the link provided here.


In one respect, our response could be, “don’t worry about it.” In another respect, our response could be, “Your youth pastor is making a terrible mistake. Whether in ignorance or in malice we cannot tell.”

Regarding a direct contact with the IRS to get verification of the approval, the IRS will not disclose private taxpayer information without authorization from the taxpayer.

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