Deductions for associate pastors

by Cliff
(Hattiesburg, MS, USA)

Can an associate pastor who meets all of the 5 requirements to be considered as clergy, but who does not receive a salary be considered as eligible to take deductions that a paid clergy member can take?

For example, a volunteer youth pastor who conducts all aspects of youth ministry during weekly youth worship services(meets all five criteria for being considered clergy) paralleling the ministerial duties that are performed by the paid senior pastor for the adult church worship services.

Would this youth pastor be able to claim the Housing allowance, or mileage items as deductions?

Comments for Deductions for associate pastors

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Volunteer Mileage Deductions
by: Vickey

You are right, Cliff. You can take volunteer mileage expenses. It is .14 a mile. You can also claim any parking or tolls involved in your volunteer work.

You can claim these expenses on a Schedule A...if you itemize. They go under charitable contributions. This deduction is for any volunteer that gives their services to a qualified organization (a church qualifies).

It is very important to keep a proper mileage log to claim the charitable mileage deduction.

Your log should include:

  • The name of the organization you were helping
  • Date
  • Odometer reading (start and end)
  • Purpose of trip
  • Additional Costs (ie, parking, tolls) (Save receipts!)

Read more on the IRS website.

Best advice is to consult a tax professional to determine exactly what you can deduct.

Mileage Deductions
by: Cliff

We are currently taking deductions on mileage. I read somewhere that the rate for ministry mileage deductions is around $0.14/mile (14 cents per mile). But you must have accurate records (dates, places, mileage, and purpose for the travel) that you traveled for ministry purposes and you had to perform some type of ministry related work or service. You also must include beginning and end of year odometer reading for any vehicle you used for ministry purposes.

I do not remember which tax form that is used as my wife normally prepares the taxes. I used to print out a grid to track the info on paper, but now I track all of my mileage records in my smart phone, and back-up the data to my computer, then print them out as a spread sheet at the end of every year. If you track every time you travel somewhere to perform ministry, it can add up pretty quickly.

However, if you take these type of deductions, you may not be able to do the simple standard tax deduction method. We compare both methods, and which ever one yields the most tax refund, we file. But you must keep accurate records of everything, which is not a bad idea any way.

associate pastor
by: Lisa

Neither the pastor or the associate pastor (my husband) draw a salary. Our church has around 40 people in attendance now, and growing each week. My husband has a full time job, but we both spend most of our other time at the church. We do everything imaginable. We lead worship, preach in the pastors absence, clean and maintain the building, and basically along with the pastor run the church. We spend both time and money on our church. So, my question is can we write off mileage or anything else? The day is coming when the Pastor and the associate receive pay for being the ministers, but until then we are having a hard time making ends meet financially and deductions would help at the end of the year. My husband received a certificate of ordination, but isn't licensed yet.
Thank you.

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