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Review of Form W-2 Reporting for Ministers

Question:

Is it necessary for a church to withhold Social Security and Medicare (FICA tax) from its pastor’s compensation? How does the church report housing allowance paid to its pastor?

Answer:

Ministers are exempt from all withholding, including FICA tax. By Internal Revenue Code statute, ministers are dual status employees--employees in every respect except for purposes of withholding. For purposes of Social Security and Medicare they are treated as self-employed (SE) individuals. Therefore, boxes 3, 4, 5, and 6 on a Form W-2, for reporting Social Security and Medicare wages and withholding, are left blank. Whether the minister has personally chosen to opt-out of SE tax is irrelevant to the church. It cannot withhold and match FICA tax for a minister. 

We recommend that the housing allowance be reported in box 14 of Form W-2 as a memorandum item. Illustrations of these concepts are in the accompanying link to our website. Click on the Presentation: Church and Christian Ministry Compensation Concepts.

Link to MS-PowerPoint presentation

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