Commuter Mileage

by New Admin. Brd. Member at My Church
(North Carolina)

I think Bible Study (taught by the pastor) each Monday night would be considered commuter mileage? How about the other things listed below?

Our pastor has submitted a travel log as documentation for reimbursement for travel with odometer readings showing mileage and destinations for some entries as follows:

United Methodist Men, Bible Study, Wednesday night supper, Church, Trustees, Nominating Meeting, Confirmation, Library for sermon, Slides Church, Bible School, Pastor Parish Staff Relations, Mountains to Pray, Yard Sale, Holy Thursday Service setup, Charge Conference, Building Committee, UMW Breakfast, Youth Pool Party, Movie night, Trunk or Treat, All Saints Practice, Staff Planning, Caroling, Christmas Eve Service.

Comments for Commuter Mileage

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commuter mileage
by: Anonymous

On a side note: Our council approved to pay the cost of the Pastors whole family to a conference. Only his and wife were "allowed" by IRS so the difference was added to his income on line 1 of the W-2. If your council does disallow the expense you can always do a corrected W-2

Commuter Mileage
by: New Admin. Brd. Member at my Church (NC)

Anonymous, thank you for the reference to Pub 17 which could prove to be most helpful to resolve the question of a Commuter Mileage--business expense being acceptable. If only this $5,000 had been listed as income on the W-2 or the council probably should see the list so they could act and make the right decision for the church. Thank you mostly for your continued prayers.

by: Anonymous

Well... it really looks like it doesn't matter what an individual thinks but what the council approves.
Pub 17 chapter 26 page 177 states "An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your business. An expense does not have to be required to be considered necessary"

Pub 535 "Accountable Plans -An accountable plan requires your employees to meet all of the following requirements. Each employee must:

1. Have paid or incurred deductible expenses while performing services as your employee,

2. Adequately account to you for these expenses within a reasonable period of time, and

3. Return any excess reimbursement or allowance within a reasonable period of time.

An arrangement under which you advance money to employees is treated as meeting (3) above only if the following requirements are also met.

The advance is reasonably calculated not to exceed the amount of anticipated expenses.

You make the advance within a reasonable period of time of your employee paying or incurring the expense.

If any expenses reimbursed under this arrangement are not substantiated, or an excess reimbursement is not returned within a reasonable period of time by an employee, you cannot treat these expenses as reimbursed under an accountable plan. Instead, treat the reimbursed expenses as paid under a nonaccountable plan


Commuter Mileage
by: New Admin. Brd. Member at my church (NC) again

Follow-up for reply from Anonymous--I have read IRS Pub 15 series. Our church has reimbursed $5,000 from a travel expense line to our pastor for 2011 with an accountable expense plan. The list of what I think is commuter expense on the pastor's travel log that he submitted to the church for payment should not have been reimbursed. My point is, do you agree that most of the items in my original list are in fact commuter miles or personal miles that should not have been reimbused?

Travel reimbursement
by: Anonymous

Travel reimbursement is a benefit and it depends on what the church has approved and how it is accounted for (paper trail). You need to read the IRS Pub 15 series. Our church reimburses very few travel expenses, the pastor claims the ones we do not reimburse on his taxes. If you do reimburse him you must be careful how it is done or it will be added as "other income" in box 1 of his W-2.

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