Can husband and wife both claim ministerial housing allowance

by Mary
(Colorado)

Husband and wife are both "Called Ministers of Religion". Can they each use the Housing Allowance as a tax consideration for their individual income?

Comments for Can husband and wife both claim ministerial housing allowance

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Dec 16, 2014
Husband and Wife Housing Allowance
by: MarcusNTexas

First time I have seen this question. I would say that it would be okay, assuming that if they are living together in the same house / home and the total that they receive does not exceed the total housing expenses they are able to document when the IRS eventually comes knocking at their door. The Stewardship / Finance Committee / Treasurer at their church should require them to provide some type of realistic estimate of what their housing allowance(s) are to cover for the upcoming year so that the housing allowance(s) can be reflected in the operating budget for the upcoming year. I don't know whether them filing a joint tax return versus individual tax returns would make any difference. A very interesting situation / question, for sure.

Dec 21, 2014
Housing Allowance isn't necessarily cash
by: D Fry

A housing allowance isn't necessarily an additional cash payment to ministers. It can be a statement of how much of a pastor's income is designated as a housing allowance, which must be supported by documentation, of course. The W-2 at year-end would reflect cash payments less the amount designated as housing allowance, which is then typically entered in Box 14. Self Employment tax would always be due on the total of both amounts, but Federal tax would be due on the W-2 amount plus any amount designated as housing allowance that cannot be substantiated as spent on housing.
So if the church is paying both husband and wife as pastors or ministers, and they are both eligible to claim a housing allowance, then it is permissible for both to claim it. Of course, they must each be able to substantiate the amount so designated, with separate expenses; obviously both cannot claim the same expense against their individual allowance. One allowance amount designated to one individual would be fine if they file a joint return, but if they file separately or have reason to separate their income and expenses for some reason, then it makes perfect sense to declare a housing allowance for each. And it must be declared BEFORE they receive any pay against which the allowance would apply, per IRS guidelines.

Dec 22, 2014
housing allowance
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your input!

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