Payment of Employee  Ministry Expenses

A church or religious organization is treated like any other employer as far as the tax rules on employee business expenses. The rules differ depending upon whether the expenses are paid through an accountable or non-accountable plan, and these plans determine whether the payment for these expenses is included in the employee’s income.

Accountable Reimbursement Plan

An arrangement that a church establishes to reimburse or advance employee ministry expenses will be an accountable plan if it:

  • (1) involves a church connection,
  • (2) requires the employee to substantiate expenses incurred and
  • (3) requires the employee to return any excess amounts.

Employees must provide the organization with sufficient information to identify the specific ministry nature of each expense and to substantiate each element of an expenditure. It isn’t sufficient for an employee to aggregate expenses into broad categories such as travel or to report expenses through the use of non-descriptive terms such as miscellaneous business expenses. Both the substantiation and the return of excess amounts must occur within a reasonable time.

Employee ministry expenses reimbursed under an accountable plan are: (a) excluded from an employee’s gross income, (b) not required to be reported on the employee’s IRS Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and (c) exempt from the withholding and payment of wages subject to FICA taxes and income tax withholdings.

Still, have questions?
Contact Pro Advisor Support to answer your questions.

Clergy Financial Resources
Tax I Payroll I Bookkeeping I HR
11214 86th Avenue N.
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Tel: (888) 421.0101
Fax: (888) 876.5101

<  Back

Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

For more information or if you need additional assistance, please use the contact information below.

Clergy Financial Resources
11214 86th Avenue N.
Maple Grove, MN 55369

Tel: (888) 421-0101 
Fax: (888) 876-5101


If you would like to learn more about our tax services designed for clergy or payroll, bookkeeping or HR designed for churches, please complete the request form to have an advisor contact you.

Click Here