Skip to main content

When a Church Incorrectly Withholds FICA from a Minister

Question:

Our church withheld FICA from our pastor's prior paychecks. Is the church required to correct prior payroll reports?

Answer:

Yes, if the church incorrectly withheld FICA from its pastor's paychecks, the church is required to file corrected federal payroll forms, including Forms 941 or 944, and Forms W-2 and W-3. If the employee is to be treated as a minister, the church must follow IRS requirements for ministers, which are different than general employee requirements.

Churches are fully subject to the provisions of Internal Revenue Code sections 1402(c) and 3121(b)(8) and Treasury Regulations under section 1402(c). The Internal Revenue Service's Minister's Audit Techniques Guide explains to IRS auditors, in brief, key ministerial tax matters that they must understand before conducting an audit on a minister's tax return. A quote from the Guide follows:
Although  a minister is considered an employee under the common law rules,  payments for services as a minister are considered income from self-employment pursuant to IRC §§ 1402(c) and 3121(b)(8). A minister, unless exempt, pays social security and Medicare taxes under the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) and is not subject to Federal Insurance Compensation Act (FICA) taxes or income tax withholding.
It is important to note that this treatment is non-elective; the church must correct the federal payroll forms.

For a review on FICA taxes, read the following blog posts:

Refund of Incorrectly Withheld FICA Taxes from a Minister

Church Withholding of FICA Taxes

Review of Form W-2 Reporting for Ministers

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mission Trips Involving Both Charitable and Personal Time

Question:

A church group went on a two-week mission trip, and a few of the members stayed an additional two weeks for personal time. Will the members who stayed the two additional weeks be able to deduct expenses from the trip?

Answer:

IRS Pub 526 covers the topic of Charitable Contributions and, more specifically, travel expenses associated with charitable trips. The publication states that travel expenses will be deductible “if there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel.” The publication also states, “The deduction for travel expenses won't be denied simply because you enjoy providing services to the charitable organization. Even if you enjoy the trip, you can take a charitable contribution deduction for your travel expenses if you are on duty in a genuine and substantial sense throughout the trip. However, if you have only nominal duties, or if for significant parts of the trip you don't have any duties, you can't deduct you…

Supporting a Retired Pastor

Question:

Can a church provide monthly support to a pastor who is no longer actively in the ministry without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status? If so, should a Form-1099 MISC be issued? 
Answer:
First, this action would not jeopardize tax-exemption status. The action of supporting a retired minister is within the boundaries of exempt purposes. 
Second, the post retirement support is compensation. The compensation should be reported on a Form 1099-MISC unless he is still considered to be an employee who should therefore receive Form W-2.


This is the "bad news." However, let's revisit a blog post we provided in 2009.

http://ministrycpa.blogspot.com/2009/10/retired-minister-continued-support-from.html

"A retired minister may receive part of his or her pension benefits as a designated parsonage allowance based on past services. Trustees of a minister’s retirement plan may designate a portion of each pension distribution as a parsonage allowance excludible under IRC § 107. (Re…

Housing Allowance when Bartering for Rent Payments

Question:

If a minister rents his principal residence, but he performs services (mowing the lawn, repairing the roof, etc.) in lieu of rent, can he still qualify the rent amount for a housing allowance tax benefit?

Answer:

Of course, bartering income is taxable. The Internal Revenue Code interprets that above situation as follows: tenant/minister receives taxable income for the fair market value of the services he provides, andtenant/minster pays landlord for renal of residence. The minister in this case reports taxable income for services provided in lieu of rent. It is also likely subject to self-employment tax. He may then claim as qualifying housing allowance expense equal to the amount he "pays" for rent of his personal residence. Essentially, there is no difference than if the minister and his landlord simply traded checks.

See a past MinistryCPA post regarding this topic: http://ministrycpa.blogspot.com/2016/09/services-to-church-in-lieu-of-rent-of.html