November 01, 2013

Housing Allowance on Non-ministerial Income?

Question:

As the minister of a small church, I receive no compensation. I do, however, work a secular job for which I am compensated, and I use the earnings from this job to cover my housing expenses. Can I apply to the IRS for a housing allowance designation of this income?

Answer:

Unfortunately, no. According to IRS Publication 517, "The church or organization that employs you must officially designate the payment as a housing allowance." A housing allowance is designated by your employer, not the IRS, and is available only on income from ministerial services.

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