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IRS.gov Website
Publication 517
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033572

Ministerial Services(p4)

rule
Ministerial service, in general, is the service you perform in the exercise of your ministry, in the exercise of your duties as required by your religious order, or in the exercise of your profession as a Christian Science practitioner or reader. Income you receive for performing ministerial services is subject to SE tax unless you have an exemption as explained later. Even if you have an exemption, only the income you receive for performing ministerial services is exempt. The exemption does not apply to any other income.
The following discussions provide more detailed information on ministerial services of ministers, members of a religious order, and Christian Science practitioners and readers.
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033573

Ministers(p4)

rule
Most services you perform as a minister, priest, rabbi, etc., are ministerial services. These services include:
You are considered to control, conduct, and maintain a religious organization if you direct, manage, or promote the organization's activities.
A religious organization is under the authority of a religious body that is a church or denomination if it is organized for and dedicated to carrying out the principles of a faith according to the requirements governing the creation of institutions of the faith.
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033574

Services for nonreligious organizations.(p4)

rule
Your services for a nonreligious organization are ministerial services if the services are assigned or designated by your church. Assigned or designated services qualify even if they do not involve performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship.
If your services are not assigned or designated by your church, they are ministerial services only if they involve performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship.
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033575

Services that are not part of your ministry.(p4)

rule
Income from services you perform as an employee that are not ministerial services is subject to social security and Medicare tax withholding (not self-employment tax) under the rules that apply to employees in general. The following are not ministerial services.
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033576

Books or articles.(p4)

rule
Writing religious books or articles is considered to be in the exercise of your ministry and is considered a ministerial service.
This rule also applies to members of religious orders and to Christian Science practitioners and readers.
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033577

Members of  
Religious Orders(p5)

rule
Services you perform as a member of a religious order in the exercise of duties required by the order are ministerial services. The services are considered ministerial because you perform them as an agent of the order.
For example, if you are directed to perform services for another agency of the supervising church or an associated institution, you are considered to perform the services as an agent of the order.
However, if you are directed to work outside the order, the employment will not be considered a duty required by the order unless:
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033578

Effect of employee status.(p5)

rule
Ordinarily, if your services are not considered directed or required of you by the order, you and the outside party for whom you work are considered employee and employer. In this case, your earnings from the services are taxed under the rules that apply to employees in general, not under the rules for services provided as agent for the order. This is true even if you have taken a vow of poverty.
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033579

Example.(p5)

Pat Brown and Chris Green are members of a religious order and have taken vows of poverty. They renounce all claims to their earnings. The earnings belong to the order.
Pat is a licensed attorney. The superiors of the order instructed her to get a job with a law firm. Pat joined a law firm as an employee and, as she requested, the firm made the salary payments directly to the order.
Chris is a secretary. The superiors of the order instructed him to accept a job with the business office of the church that supervises the order. Chris took the job and gave all his earnings to the order.
Pat's services are not duties required by the order. Her earnings are subject to social security and Medicare tax under FICA and to federal income tax.
Chris' services are considered duties required by the order. He is acting as an agent of the order and not as an employee of a third party. He does not include the earnings in gross income, and they are not subject to income tax withholding, social security and Medicare tax, or SE tax.
taxmap/pubs/p517-001.htm#en_us_publink100033580

Christian Science Practitioners and Readers(p5)

rule
The exemption from SE tax, discussed later, applies only to the services a Christian Science practitioner or reader performs in the exercise of his or her profession. If you do not have an exemption, amounts you receive for performing these ministerial services are subject to SE tax.