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Showing posts from October, 2019

Minister, is an IRA the Best Option for You? Retirement Alternatives

Question:

If I can make retirement contributions to both a Traditional IRA and to a church plan is there a reason to prefer one over the other?

Answer:

Yes! Most ministers should likely be choosing a 403(b) church plan.

In addition to a Traditional IRA, a minister may choose to claim a contribution to another retirement plan, like a 403(b) church plan. However, before choosing to do so, it is important to understand the benefits and disadvantages of both a Traditional IRA and a 403(b) plan.

Contributions to a Traditional Individual Retirement Account are not employer plans that are deducted up front from a minister's pay (reported on Form W-2). Instead, these amounts are truly deducted on his personal tax return. The benefit of the IRA is that it can be funded after December 31st and still count against one's taxable income. Additionally, an IRA does not require church sponsorship and has lower fees to establish an account.

While there are several benefits of an IRA, there are also…

Gift Cards in the Offering Plate

Question:
A church received a Visa gift card in the offering.  Is this considered a taxable contribution for the person donating it and, if so, how is it handled? 
Answer:
A gift card is considered the equivalent of cash, so it should be treated in the same way as cash donated to the church. While it is possible to accept gift cards as contributions, the issue lies more with the recording and tracking of the gift, which can be labor intensive.
The value of the gift card will need to be determined since its cost may not equal the face value of the card. Why not? The deductibility of the gift card is based on what the donor actually paid for it rather than the value stated on the card. For example….a simple web search of "gift cards at a discounted price" received more than 12 million hits.
A second complication: After determining the card's value, the gift must be recorded to a separate general ledger asset account where its value could be tracked. Unless the church is ab…