Special rules apply to the treatment of ministers for social security purposes. An exemption from social security is available for ministers and certain other religious workers and members of certain recognized religious sects. For more information on getting an exemption, see Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers.taxmap/pubs/p15a-003.htm#en_us_publink1000169530
Ministers are individuals who are duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed by a religious body constituting a church or church denomination. They are given the authority to conduct religious worship, perform sacerdotal functions, and administer ordinances and sacraments according to the prescribed tenets and practices of that religious organization.
A minister who performs services in the exercise of ministry for you subject to your will and control is your employee. The common-law rules discussed in sections 1 and 2 should be applied to determine whether a minister is your employee or is self-employed. Whether the minister is an employee or self-employed, the earnings of a minister are not subject to federal income, social security, and Medicare tax withholding. However, the earnings as reported on the minister's Form 1040 are subject to self-employment tax and federal income tax. You do not withhold these taxes from wages earned by a minister, but if the minister is your employee, you may agree with the minister to voluntarily withhold tax to cover the minister's liability for self-employment tax and federal income tax.taxmap/pubs/p15a-003.htm#en_us_publink1000169531
If your minister is an employee, report all taxable compensation as wages in box 1 on Form W-2. Include in this amount expense allowances or reimbursements paid under a nonaccountable plan, discussed in section 5 of Publication 15 (Circular E). Do not include a parsonage allowance (excludable housing allowance) in this amount. You may report a designated parsonage or rental allowance (housing allowance) and a utilities allowance, or the rental value of housing provided in a separate statement or in box 14 on Form W-2. Do not show on Form W-2, Form 941, or Form 944 any amount as social security or Medicare wages, or any withholding for social security or Medicare taxes. If you withheld federal income tax from the minister under a voluntary agreement, this amount should be shown in box 2 on Form W-2 as federal income tax withheld. For more information on ministers, see Publication 517. taxmap/pubs/p15a-003.htm#en_us_publink1000169532
Certain ordained ministers, Christian Science practitioners, and members of religious orders who have not taken a vow of poverty may apply to exempt their earnings from self-employment tax on religious grounds. The application must be based on conscientious opposition to public insurance (which makes payments in the event of death, disability, old age, or retirement, or that makes payments toward the cost of, or provides services for, medical care (including social security and Medicare benefits)), because of personal religious considerations. The exemption applies only to qualified services performed for the religious organization. See Revenue Procedure 91-20, 1991-1 C.B. 524, for guidelines to determine whether an organization is a religious order or whether an individual is a member of a religious order.
To apply for the exemption, the employee should file Form 4361, Application for Exemption From Self-Employment Tax for Use by Ministers, Members of Religious Orders and Christian Science Practitioners. See Publication 517 for more information about claiming an exemption from self-employment tax using Form 4361. taxmap/pubs/p15a-003.htm#en_us_publink1000169533
If you belong to a recognized religious sect or to a division of such sect that is opposed to insurance, you may qualify for an exemption from the self-employment tax. To qualify, you must be conscientiously opposed to accepting the benefits of any public or private insurance that makes payments because of death, disability, old age, or retirement, or makes payments toward the cost of, or provides services for, medical care (including social security and Medicare benefits). If you buy a retirement annuity from an insurance company, you will not be eligible for this exemption. Religious opposition based on the teachings of the sect is the only legal basis for the exemption. In addition, your religious sect (or division) must have existed since December 31, 1950.taxmap/pubs/p15a-003.htm#en_us_publink1000169534
If you are self-employed and a member of a recognized religious sect opposed to insurance, you can apply for exemption by filing Form 4029, Application for Exemption From Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Waiver of Benefits, and waive all social security benefits.taxmap/pubs/p15a-003.htm#en_us_publink1000169535
The social security and Medicare tax exemption available to the self-employed who are members of a recognized religious sect opposed to insurance is also available to their employees who are members of such a sect. This applies to partnerships only if each partner is a member of the sect. This exemption for employees applies only if both the employee and the employer are members of such a sect, and the employer has an exemption. To get the exemption, the employee must file Form 4029.
An employee of a church or church-controlled organization that is exempt from social security and Medicare taxes can also apply for an exemption on Form 4029.