Question concerning how church organist is paid

by Butch
(Tombsone, AZ. )

As pastor, I have just become aware that we are paying our church organist by sending her pay to her landlord for a partial on her rent.

A lawyer that goes to our church said this was ok to pay her in the described manner. He called it benevolent payment or compassionate compensation.

I have searched through your website and can find nothing for paying her in this manner. She qualifies as a church employee and when we find out whether or not this payment method is not correct or illegal, we intend to pay her as a w-2 employee. She is 85 and lives from funds established by a trust fund.

Please advise as to what is proper in her compensation (pay).

Thank you

Comments for Question concerning how church organist is paid

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Apr 22, 2020
Organists are Usually Considered Employees of the Church
by: Vickey

I respectfully disagree with your lawyer.

Benevolence is not to be used in exchange for a service. There are some strict guidelines on what the IRS considers nontaxable benevolence. See more on those guidelines:

Usually the church's organist is considered an employee of the church as the church provides the "equipment" and sets the hours =)

So paying her as a W-2 employee is probably a good idea.

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Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Church Accounting FAQs.

If you want to DIY your payroll, I highly recommend you look at using Gusto! It is very user friendly and their support is awesome! Plus they know how to set up and maintain payrolls for churches and nonprofit organizations.

Note: I am a "partner" of Gusto, but as I have told you before ... I never recommend anything that we or our clients have not tried and love =)

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