TN 31 (11-23)

RS 02505.120 Ministers


A minister's duties are varied, and not all are sacerdotal functions.

In addition to the duties directly connected with church functions, the minister may:

  • Attend or participate in social activities connected with the church;

  • Attend church conferences;

  • Engage in negotiations for upkeep and maintenance of church property.


“Minister” is defined in RS 01802.061 and RS 01901.600.


The earnings from services performed by a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister in the exercise of their ministry are NESE.


1. Deductions

Impose deductions for services performed in the exercise of a ministry regardless of whether:

  • The minister is actually self-employed or an employee;

  • The minister has or has not elected coverage by filing the necessary certificate with IRS.

2. Countable income

Count as Earnings:

  • Income (including parsonage allowances) received by individuals from their ministry; and

  • Income from an alleged or bona fide religious order, regardless of whether the individual assigns it back to the church. This includes a bona fide religious order which requires a vow of poverty from its members and has filed a certificate of election of Social Security coverage. See RS 01905.001.

3. Income not counted

  • Parsonage or housing allowances when included in retirement pay.

  • Do not count earnings or support received in the performance of duties required by the order, if a bona fide religious order that requires a vow of poverty has not filed a certificate of election.

  • Contact the local IRS for a determination when in doubt if a religious order is bona fide.

4. Substantial Services

Apply the guides in RS 02505.065 - RS 02505.100 to determine whether services are substantial regardless of the coverage status of a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister.

Consider any services performed within the scope of the ministry in determining whether substantial services were rendered.

5. Controlling Income Reported on a W-2

Excluding Income From Enforcement

Most ministers get a W-2 from their affiliated churches because they are considered employees except for Social Security coverage purposes. This income is also reported on the schedule SE filed by the minister. Since both of these reports are posted to the MEF, the amount of the Total Compensation reported on the W-2 issued to a beneficiary for services as a minister must be input through the Special Payment procedure in RS 02510.017. Only the posted SEI for such services count for enforcement purposes.

EXCEPTION:  More than 4 years have elapsed after the close of the beneficiary's TY.


  • For treatment of earnings for chaplains of governmental entities, RS 01901.600

  • Reporting of a minister's income for coverage and tax purposes, RS 01803.251

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RS 02505.120 - Ministers - 11/21/2023
Batch run: 11/21/2023