As a pastor, one of your greatest earthly rewards is the clergy housing allowance. Though it’s nothing compared to the rewards you’re piling up in heaven, it is definitely something that should not be overlooked.
Here are some things to remember as you prepare your 2018 clergy housing allowance request:
The GOP released their highly anticipated tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, today. Many pastors have been biting their nails in anticipation of how the “simplification of the tax code” might affect the clergy housing allowance or the Form 4361 Social Security exemption.
How Tax Reform Will Affect Pastors Specifically
The 429-page document says nothing about either the clergy housing allowance or the Form 4361 Social Security exemption. That means that if it were to pass in its current form, neither of these pastoral perks would be affected. The bill will probably be changed a lot before it is able to pass both the House and Senate, but pastors can breath a sigh of relief that they are not a part of the discussion.
The only part of the Act that does affect pastors specifically is the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. This was the law prohibiting churches from getting involved in politics for fear of losing their tax-exempt status. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act states that churches:
shall not fail to be treated as organized and operated exclusively for a religious purpose, nor shall it be deemed to have participated in, or intervened in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, solely because of the content of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings, but only if the preparation and presentation of such content—‘‘(A) is in the ordinary course of the organization’s regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose, and ‘‘(B) results in the organization incurring not more than de minimis incremental expenses.’’
There is a section of the Act that addresses employer-provided housing. This does not refer to parsonages and the ministerial housing allowance. It is a different section of the Internal Revenue Code that refers to things like onsite apartment managers or campground hosts, not pastors.
General Changes That Will Affect Everyone
Here are some changes that the Act proposes that will probably affect you, though they are not specific to pastors:
Tax bracket changes: For married couples, your first $24,000 will not be taxed. Everything from $24,000 to $90,000 will be taxed at 12% and everything from $90,000 to $260,000 will be taxed at 25%. For individual filers, the dollar amounts are all halved, except that the 25% tax bracket extends up to $200,000 of income.
The new standard deductions will be $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for married couples. There will no longer be personal exemptions.
The Child Tax Credit increases to $1,600 and the threshold for claiming it increases.
There is a new $300 tax credit for non-child dependents.
The mortgage interest deduction will be capped at $500,000 in loan debt for newly purchased homes.
You can deduct up to $10,000 of local property taxes but other state and local taxes will not be deductible.
For a previous analysis of how the changes in deductions might affect a family, please see this post.
Yesterday, the GOP officially unveiled their “Unified Framework For Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.” Many people are eager to know how they will personally be affected by tax reform, especially pastors who receive certain benefits not available to others. Right now you’re probably wondering what, if any, changes will be made to the clergy housing allowance and your ability to opt out of Social Security.
Unfortunately, the framework does not answer any of your questions. It is a broad guide for congressional committee members to follow as they write out the details of tax reform. It will probably be months before we know anything specific. The Pastor’s Wallet will make sure to inform you as soon as anything official regarding how the tax reform will affect your 4361 exemption and the clergy housing allowance is made public.
Even though to me it seems like summer is just getting started, some colleges are starting up again in only a month. This is the season when thousands of families are signing up for student loans. Personally, I don’t think loans are necessary to earn a college degree, but a lot of people still use them.
If you or your child are planning on attending college this fall and using loans to do so, you need to know what you’re getting into. Here are three very important things for you to understand before taking out student loans:
It can be so frustrating watching other people make mistakes when you know better. In this post I go through several mistakes that I have personally witnessed in hopes that it will help you avoid them and their ugly consequences.
Federal tax laws are so complicated that most people outsource tax preparation and have little understanding of how it all works. Do you know how your taxes are calculated? Or the difference between a credit and a deduction? It’s your hard-earned money and your government, so you really should.
Taxes are a huge part of our lives as American citizens. However, there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to taxes. After all, the Federal Tax Code has about 3 millionmore words than the Bible. There are a lot of myths floating around regarding taxes, and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are some common beliefs regarding taxes and the truth behind them: