October 04, 2016

Ministers Performing Both Ministerial and Non-ministerial Duties

Question:

An ordained minister perform typical ministerial duties. He also assists with bookkeeping and other administrative functions, but these functions are not his primary role. He raises his own support, which is given to the organization as designated/restricted funds for his needs. While the organization has leadership and a board which determines direction and vision, his hours are not specifically set and the manner/method of work is unspecified by the organization.

1.) Is he an employee or an independent contractor?

2.) If he is an employee, can the organization pay half of his social security and Medicare (FICA tax)? 

Answer:

Both employee ministers and independent contractor ministers pay their own self-employment tax. According to IRS Publication 517 ministers have the responsibility to pay self-employment tax. Publication 517 states, “These services [of a minister] include: 
  • Performing sacerdotal functions,
  •  Conducting religious worship, and 
  • Controlling, conducting, and maintaining religious organizations (including the religious boards, societies, and other integral agencies of such organizations) that are under the authority of a religious body that is a church or denomination."
The Publication continues: "You are considered to control, conduct, and maintain a religious organization if you direct, manage, or promote the organization's activities.”

In the case above, the minister is likely considered an employee minister according to these standards, and, therefore he would receive a Form W-2 (MinistryCPA Blog Post).

Regarding, his non-ministerial duties of bookkeeping, it is subject to FICA tax which is withheld from an employee at the rate of 7.65% and matched by the employer/church. He remains responsible for SE tax on his ministerial employee compensation. 

We find that this situation is common to ministers. For example, churches that have schools often find their ministers performing non-ministerial, FICA tax-subject duties (e.g., coaching an athletic team).

See previous post concerning the subject of a dual status employee:
http://ministrycpa.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-of-form-w-2-reporting-for.html

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