August 17, 2013

Housing Allowance for Minister Leading NPO

Question:

An ordained minister recently started a Non-Profit Organization to spread the gospel through providing free food to needy members of the community. Is he eligible for a housing allowance?

Answer:

The Minister Audit Technique Guide provides the answer to the question, "Who qualifies for a housing allowance?" Follow the link below to choose the second item in the Table of Contents-"Who Qualifies for Special Tax Treatment as a Minister?"

Minister Audit Technique Guide


Generally, the following two treasury regulation sections list the services defined by the IRS which a minister must be performing "in the exercise of his ministry" to qualify for a housing allowance:

"Treas. Reg. § 1.1402(c)-5(b)(2) provides that service performed by a minister in the exercise of the ministry includes:
·      Ministration of sacerdotal functions;
·      Conduct of religious worship;
·      Control, conduct, and maintenance of religious organizations (including the religious boards, societies, and other integral agencies of such organizations), under the authority of a religious body constituting a church or denomination.
Treas. Reg. § 1.107-1(a) also provides examples of specific services considered duties of a minister, including:
·      Performance of sacerdotal functions;
·      Conduct of religious worship;
·      Administration and maintenance of religious organizations and their integral agencies;
·      Performance of teaching and administrative duties at theological seminaries."

As noted in the question above, it is not likely that the minister is performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship. Our experience has demonstrated that non-profit organizations other than churches and religious colleges and seminaries most often must wrestle with their inclusion under the category "religious organizations and their integral agencies." The Minister Audit Technique Guide lists several examples that may assist with understanding of this issue.

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