Reader feedback: Are Churches of Christ parting with the parsonage?
A GENERATION or so ago, a parsonage was the accepted way to provide members of the clergy with housing, typically in lieu of a higher salary. Particularly for younger pastors on Long Island, the parsonage was often nicer than what they could have otherwise afforded.
But these days many clerics are opting to receive a housing stipend — if their congregation allows it — and with it, the freedom to choose a place of their own to rent or buy. They say they want the chance to build equity and help secure their financial future.
Read the full report.
Reader feedback: Are we seeing this same trend among Churches of Christ? What is happening with regard to minister housing? Please comment below and be sure to include your full name, home congregation, city and state in case we decide to quote you.
FeedbackOur congregation once had a parsonage but sold it due to challenges the group was having at one point in time. When my husband became the preacher in 1998, we already owned a home, which was selected with our own needs and personalities in mind. I think we prefer it this way. One advantage is that we do not live right next door to the church building. I think this allows us to have a little more separation from work and private family time, which has been important to us and our three children. Still, we’re only 10 minutes away, so we can get to town very quickly if needed.Lori KashorekApril, 18 2012Why should there be a need for a minister to rent or buy a house, through the money coming from the congregation? It’s as if the congregation is paying them to live in a house. I’m the type who feels that what is expedient should not be that which is started or created by those in the denominational world.Jerome HApril, 18 2012Having been in ministry and living in a parsonage, I totally prefer to live in my own house. In my opinion, parsonages show the temporary nature of ministry in a local work.Brian McGonagillApril, 18 2012For the minister, it is best to have their own home. My father used to be an accountant and often advised congregations accordingly.
In thinking over this, I think that what might work for some congregations is to have an apartment as temporary quarters for a minister. This would give new ministers time to find their own home and provide housing for visiting ministers. How to arrange this should be up to each congregation thinks this is a good idea.DanaApril, 18 2012The problem with expecting ministers to live in parsonages is that when it comes time to retire, he and his wife have no place to live and no place to sell. As the daugher of such a man, who did not retire until in his early 90s when he was physically unable to continue the work, I find it a very unfair system.LindaApril, 18 2012As a young preacher who is looking for a job, I primarily look for congregations with a parsonage. The cost of living has skyrocketed in so many places combined with less money in the contribution because the members have less money means salaries for preachers have pretty much stayed the same for the last 20 years. A parsonage allows me to take a job where they pass less because I won’t need to worry about housing costs.
By contrast though if they don’t have a parsonage, most of the places that are even willing to consider me (with a lack of experience) are not going to add in the extra 12,000 a year to rent or the extra 18,000 a year to buy a house (National Averages). With the average salary of a congregation who (by their ad) would consider hiring me being around 27,000 dollars with parsonage, or 35,000 without, this would still leave me 4000 dollars short to rent an average apartment.
I understand what the people above are saying about building equity and things like that, but I am not looking to secure my future. God has already done that for me. I am looking to work with a congregation and have as few worldly concerns as possible.
And before you say you are young, I am a young preacher, not necessarily a young guy. I know what this world holds and I left the world of business and building equity for my future for this work.DavidApril, 18 2012It will be very expedient if every minister of the gospel owns his own apartment while they are still active in the service,because their income will not fetch them a house of their own when they retired.Chinedum NwankwoApril, 19 2012There are many reasons why I believe a minister should be able to own their own home (as a minister, I have strong feelings about this).
1. We should be able to buy a home, build it as we want, and establish equity in it (what will happen when we need to retire?).
2. Something most people don’t understand is that minister’s also need some separation from their work. As most parsonages are built next-door to the church building (literally), it affords no actual privacy for the minister. My wife and I own a home, which is only 10-15 minutes away from the building, and we are surrounded by 6 families from our congregation.
3. While it is not a common problem, you also have a lack of privacy because other members of the congregation have keys.
4. Most people also do not understand that, unfortunately, there can be an ugly side to “church politics.” I’ve heard more than one story about a disagreement occurring, and the minister and his family literally being forced out of the house, with no warning. Is it the Christian thing to do?-Absolutely not, but it happens. And what are you to do when you are fired, or feel morally compelled to leave the congregation due to biblical disagreements about matters of the soul, and you have no job and no home? To find a good congregation to work with takes about a year of searching (especially for those with less than 10 years experience at one place). How will you provide for your family?
5. As a newly wed 7 years ago, I was actually looking for a parsonage. There are definitely some advantages to having one. But a person should be not be forced into one. If you agree to live in one, you need to make sure you have firm rules in your contract about the home, especially about how long you can stay after your employment ends. A new preacher the church hires can be housed in an apartment for a few months while you are searching for a new work.ChadApril, 19 2012I’m afraid, for better or worse (and it will probably be a mixture), the days of the ‘located preacher’ in expensive US real estate markets may be ending. (full-time preachers, anyway). That may be good if it results in more “lay ministry”. Very institutionalized (preacher-dependent) congregations will find themselves spending all their budget on the preacher. That, in turn, will discourage giving —-no matter how good and loved the preacher is. It behooves urban congregations with stretched dollars to consider investing time, effort, money in high-quality in-house ministry training to brace for the day when they cannot have a full-time minister. But I do not see a one-size fits all answer to the article’s question. Most CC readers probably live in the Bible belt where my thoughts do not apply. But count the thriving congregations where the Churches of Christ are cultural transplants. The missional church movement is a breath of fresh air…but will probably result in fewer traditionally structured churches. We’re going to need some new wine skins in these areas.JoaoApril, 19 2012There are good arguements both ways. I have been with the same church 34 years, and we own our home. However, I could not afford a house close to the church building based on the salary being paid and the real estate costs in the neighborhood, so I live 12 miles away and commute 30 minutes each way. When I talk with my neighbors, I encourage them to visit another congregation 1/2 mile from my home since my congregation is so far away. The time will probably come when I can’t participate in the life of this church I love because of diminished eyesight or driving accumen.
I have suggested a split purchase situation when a church is in an expensive neighborhood where the minister could seek a property near the church building to be purchased jointly with the church. When the minister leaves, the property could be sold and the equity split between the church and the minister. If the minister leaves the churches employment but wants to retain the house, he must buy out the church’s portion. In today’s real estate environment having a minister owned property is a good incentive for longevity.
Now that I am 63, it is nice to know that I have a place to live if I scale down my work or retire at some future point. And our congregation does have a retirment fund which will make this easier.SteveApril, 19 2012Is “parsonage” a word one can find in the Bible?David RamseyApril, 19 2012I suppose whether to have a parsonage is up to the local church and/or the minister, but there is one thing I want to suggest very strongly to every preacher to purchase or build a house for retirement long before actual retiring. I know many ministers that, after many years in the ministry and living in parsonages, retire and have no place to go and no money to purchase or build a house. That is very sad. My wife and I decided where we wanted to live when we retired from full time ministry. Then, we saved and worked toward building a house, which we did years before retirement. We rented this (our retirment home) for the years prior to retirement, and each time we knew the people who moved into our house, because we never put it on the market. We urged them to treat the house well, because that would be our retirement home. The rent money each month was deposited in a financial institution and eventually paid for the house. Also, enough money was left for us to thoroughly clean and remodel the house before we moved in. We basically had a new house bought and paid for when we moved in upon retirement. What a blessing that was. Please think it over long before retiring.James HaneyApril, 19 2012One other thing I would like to add. Someone asked about “parsonage”–is it in the Bible. The answer, of course, is that it is not. Neither is church building, Sunday School, Bible class, church office, chalk board, Power Point, public address system, computer, fellowship room, all-purpose room, or restroom. The need for these things authorizes these things, and it is up to us in our language to label them in a proper way. We do and say many things that are not specifically found in the Bible. That does not necessarily make these things wrong. Please, I’m not trying to start a discussion on names nor add anything to such a discussion. I just wanted to answer that question, and that is all I have to say.James HaneyApril, 19 2012Different ministers have different needs and different churches can afford different wages, and if the church can afford to hire a minister that needs to live in his own house, good!, we are just treating him and his family the same way we have treated our missionaries for many years. The only missionaries that we may not cooperate in the purchase of their own home abroad, are the ones who only go in short-mission-trips, but we want our ministers here at home to stay in our church longer, don’t we?Jos� Elmer PachecoApril, 19 2012Am I seeing an overall decline in parsonages? Absolutely. It’s only a good system when you have a preacher coming and going every few years (like my grandfather did for most of his career). Back when the average tenure was only 3 to 5 years a parsonage made perfect sense. The preacher certainly wasn’t going to build equity in that amount of time. Thankfully times have changed and more preachers are trying to commit long term to a local work. My uncle (my grandfather’s son) was also a preacher, but unlike his father he stayed in the same congregation for around forty years. For him a parsonage would have been a terrible thing.
Now I, as a third generation minister find myself caught in the middle. I work for a congregation that right now wouldn’t be able to afford to pay me enough to buy anything in the area (living in a smaller rural town there’s just not much to choose from), and if they did they wouldn’t have much left for anything esle, but since our congregation is choked full of home builders they are able to put up a nice parsonage in no time at all. My goal is to stay with this congregation and in this community long term (I’m personally hoping to retire from here), but housing will increasingly become more and more of an issue over the years. As some have already mentioned, because our house is right next to the main facility there is a lack of privacy, not really from members, in this case, but from those looking for handouts. It’s obvious where the preacher lives and this brings up security concerns for me regarding my family. It also puts an extra burden on me to keep my yard mowed, but knowing me that’s not really a bad thing.
However, I have lived in parsonages where the sentiment of the membership was, “It’s our house not yours.” and because of that my family was subject to the whims of what others deemed appropriate. If they don’t think pets should be allowed inside, then you have to think the same thing. If they hung up the curtains in the living room between preachers, then you are expected to keep them up, whether they match or not. It basically has the feel of rental property, but instead of one landlord you have to deal with a hundred land lords. But then there have also been times, like now, where we are made to feel as if the house is ours, do with it as we want. I can say from my experience that I have been blessed for this to be the rule and the other attitude has been the exception.
And while the parsonage is certainly the best investment for the congregation, it’s the worst for me. Not only do I not build any type of equity, but I also must claim fair rental value on my taxes (which means it’s not exactly free use), and add to this the fact that as a minister I would actually be allowed to write my mortgage payment off twice (thank you uncle sam), living in a church owned parsonage actually costs me a rather significant amount, just not enough to justify the transition, yet.
I think one of the hardest things about discussing this issue is that those not caught up in it usually just don’t understand. All they tend to see is “free housing, wouldn’t that be nice.” The price you pay long term for that “free housing” is somehow invisible to them.
Stockdale Church of Christ
Stockdale, TXKenneth ClappApril, 19 2012Dave,
I normally don’t respond to these kind of comments, but let’s get real for a second. Is the word in the Bible? No, but neither is car, train, plane, microwave or brisket, but I don’t think that excludes these things from being used. Is the concept of supporting those working full time in ministry in the Bible? Of course. The workman is worthy of his hire (1 Tim. 5). The word “parsonage” is just an easy, abbreviated way to refer to housing being given as part of the minister’s support. Last I checked the Bible doesn’t stipulate how that support has to be given, unless you want to take the “muzzling the ox” metaphor literally, then I guess we should all be payed in grain?Kenneth ClappApril, 19 2012Churches started doing away with parsonages over 20 years ago for a variety of reasons. Some of them were too small and cheaply built for ministers with college degrees to live in. Churches frequently built new buildings in new neighborhoods, and when they sold the old parsonage they just never bought a new one.
I have also frequently heard the argument since a home is the primary way that Americans acquire wealth, that ministers should not be deprived of this opportunity. However, just as minister’s salaries have not kept pace with the market (even this recessed one), housing stipends haven’t either. Churches in rural areas where any housing is hard to come by, and churches in areas where residential real estate is prohibitively high, are blessed to still have a parsonage.
The real issue here is probably not whether a parsonage should be a part of a minister’s compensation package, but how little churches invest in their ministers. We have long made this a job that is so demanding that few would want to do it, and now we have made it one that few can afford to do.HowardApril, 19 2012I have experienced it both ways; and I have come to the conclusion that there is no reasonable conclusion. Circumstance vary so much that each congregation must struggle with the decision of what is best in the circumstances they face. We bought our own house when entering our first full-time work (in 1978). That was best at that time. Now we live in a church owned house — and that is far better (for both the church and for us) under the current circumstances here in Toledo. Do not jump to a blanket conclusion. What is best in one time and place is not best in another.
Perhaps readers should be aware that, traditionally and legally, the practice of housing being an expected part of the employment compensation extended to college administrators, military officers, prison wardens and funeral home directors, as well as ministers. Do you see what these all have in common? 🙂thayer salisburyApril, 19 2012No. “Parsonage” is not a biblical word…But the story is about a real issue involving ministers across the Christian and Jewish spectrums. I have not been a part of a church that outright owned a “preachers house” (parsonage, rectory, manse) since the mid 1970’s.
I can appreciate the idea that a younger minister would like the idea of “supplied housing”, especially since we as a Christian group place such an emphasis of the young man fresh out of college to be married, but that is the topic for another day….I remember my late uncle, who preached in the United Methodist Church in East Texas for many decades, and he and my late aunt raised 4 kids in parsonages. They also bought acreage, and built their own place for their retirement.Realr1960April, 19 2012Chad said
“4. Most people also do not understand that, unfortunately, there can be an ugly side to �church politics.� I�ve heard more than one story about a disagreement occurring, and the minister and his family literally being forced out of the house, with no warning. Is it the Christian thing to do?-Absolutely not, but it happens. And what are you to do when you are fired, or feel morally compelled to leave the congregation due to biblical disagreements about matters of the soul, and you have no job and no home? To find a good congregation to work with takes about a year of searching (especially for those with less than 10 years experience at one place). How will you provide for your family?”
Yep. The Christian thing to do? That won’t matter to those who want you out now with the threat of either leaving or with dropping their contributions until your gone. How you will provide for your family is not a concern as you will be blamed and this is simply a consequence of your errant ways. When those with power demand your abscence, it will be quick and final. Correct me if I am wrong from those who have experienced this truth differently, but if you sensed the inevitable coming, it would not be a surprise. For those who know what I am talking about, you understand completely. Obviously, if you are actually guilty of a fireable offense (immorality, heresy, etc) then firing was still inevitable! I speak of the misplaced innocent preachers who have been forced to get out – now! The great news is that the Kingdom is not held hostage by christians. Once the pain subsides, the dust is shaken off and you’ll find mercy and grace still exists!!!Mike NanceApril, 19 2012Most congregations in the churches of Christ are small and rural. These churches, like the one I work for, can hardly afford to provide the minister with the extra benefit of a housing allowance. If I did not live in a parsonage, the church could not sustain a full-time preacher.
There is no right or wrong to the issue. Churches offer what they can and ministers choose where they want to serve. Thank God that we have autonomous churches that can decide best how to manage thier own resources to maximize ministry effectiveness.
As a minister, I used to complain about how I didnt have the opportunity to build up equity in my own home. But I know now that I cant make myself at home in a world that’s not my home. Rather than be concerned with my dwelling place in this life, it is better if I concern myself with securing a dwelling place in the next.James StultsApril, 19 2012Minister’s need privacy, they already live in a gold fish bowl at times. A parsonage is usually right next to the building and having
true down time makes a preachers life better all around. Just my 2 cents worth as a ministers daughter. I agree with most things Dave Ramsey promotes and in most cases it would seem ministers need to own their own home when they retire or sooner. I heard years ago of a ministers wife wanting to place a stone walkway out her back door down the back yard to her vegatable garden with some stone she bought at a thrift store. Two elders meetings later she decided to forget the project. Privacy—privacy….:)Rhonda FernandezApril, 19 2012While financial considerations are important when considering whether or not a preacher should live in housing provided by the local congregation, there is another consideration which I think is at least equally as important. Namely, if the preacher’s housing is furnished by the local congregation, the preacher is more likely to be considered as temporary by both the preacher and the congregation. On the other hand, if the preacher is paid sufficiently for his family to provide their own housing choices, then the preacher and the congregation will more likely consider that the preacher and his family will put down roots in the community and stay for a much longer period of time. When the preacher is expected to provide for his own housing, both he and the local congregation will be more likely to stay the course when church problems arise. Both the preacher and the church will more likely look for solutions to work out their problems. Preachers are generally able to be more effective with longer tenure in their respective communities. Congregations are generally more stable and productive when the preacher is longer tenured.Robert L. WaggonerApril, 19 2012David Ramsey: You can find “parsonage” in the Bible in the same place you find Church house, church building, church auditorium, classrooms, etc. Your point being?RonApril, 19 2012There are some very good ideas posted ahead of me. The challenges, as some have noted, include the unfortunate stories where a minister has been forced out on short notice, or upon retirement has no assets and often no pension beyond Social Security. The other side, where the cost of paying a stipend or providing a parsonage, is also a real problem for many congregations outside the “Bible belt” regions. I think that many congregations are going to find a “bi-vocational” minister a necessity, and the elders (they have elders, right?) will have to do more of what the minister/evangelist might have done in the past.
I think that it is good, where possible, for a congregation to have a “parsonage” attached to the church property, but it should not be the main housing for their minister. It can be used for visiting evangelists and missionaries, for temporary housing for various needs such as victims of floods and fires, or even some of the choral from one of the universities comes to visit. Perhaps such a “parsonage” could be structured somewhat more like a small dorm than a regular house, to balance between different purposes. And if the congregation hires a single person or couple without children, they may be happy in the parsonage for a time. Or until they find their own home.
As David Ramsey points out, “parsonage” itself is not necessarily a Biblical term, and many legitimately debate the concept of a “located preacher” anyway. But I think that some sort of housing can be an advantage to a congregation that can afford to build and maintain such a facility, even if it is not used in the classic sense. Every congregation, of course, has to balance out their own needs and resources and goals for local ministry, along with their understanding of what is expedient and in keeping with Scripture. If it doesn’t make sense for your congregation, don’t do it! 🙂John AskeyApril, 20 2012I have lived my whole life in parsonages until recently. We finally bought the house from the church. It was a win/win situation for both of us. This congregation was great at keeping the house up and being fair. Last place I worked, not so much. The big issue is that we have to pay SS taxes on the value of the house, but when we move, it doesn’t go with us. We are in essence paying for a house for the church to use for it’s ministers. If you are at a small church, or plan to move fairly often, a parsonage is probably a good thing. I have lived here almost 20 years. Think of the equity I could have had in a house by now. Most preachers just want to be treated fairly whether they live in a parsonage or not. If a church owns one, make sure the preacher feels like it their home until they move on.Jim DillingerApril, 21 2012While I know that each situation has to be weighed. Here are some general truths about ministerial housing.
In the US, Minister’s are allowed by law a “housing allowance.” Which means that a certain amount of income can be designated as such. This housing allowance amount does not count as “income” for income tax purposes, but it DOES COUNT when factoring the amount withheld for Social Security. The housing allowance represents the fair market value of the house (with utilities and maintenance). Minister who own their house can also, like all Americans, claim their mortgage interest. This is generally the best way to go in the long end.
Ministers can be surprised to find out that if the church provides them with housing the fair market value of the house is ADDED to their income and they will pay both income tax and social security based on the combined amount.
Either way, one should “know” how it works before naively accepting these or other alternatives.Stan H.April, 21 2012Very wise words from Stan H. above. I do not think that many ministers or churches understand that a “parsonage” is income when it comes to income tax. If ever audited this can cause a real problem for a minister.
One other comment/question. Are churches providing a “parsonage” or minister’s house because they cannot pay a livable salary, or are they intentionally not paying a decent salary because they have a minister’s house and do not want to pay a housing allowance? I know some small congregations cannot afford a housing allowance, but I would suggest there are many more who choose to keep the minister’s house and thereby reduce the salary offered. In many markets a house can be purchased for well under $1,000 a month, which is only $250 more a week in salary. Is this unreasonable? In markets where house payments are $1,500 or more a month and for very small congregations I can see the problem.
Finally, I like the cooperative efforts where congregations work with the minister to purchase a home and make arrangements that with longevity the house becomes his. This can also provide for a wife and children if the minister should be stricken with a life altering illness or death. We need to provide for our ministers!Paul SmithApril, 21 2012Its comming to the point, and i see more of this these days that the pastors are getting Jobs to help with there incomes. I believe this is probably the best route since there are many churches unable to physically deliver a decent amount of cash each month to the pastor.
Paul did this, He paid for his way as a tent maker, and if one of Gods ministers could do it back then, i think its a plausible idea for ministers today.
I also know of a pastor who lives in a parsonage at his small church. He also has a Job to help with his income. Ministers regardless of College need to look at the idea that where they may go to preach, may not be the idea money maker that they thought it would be.
one person stated he needed 27,000$ with a parsonage.. sorry that isnt gonna happen. Its this type of preconcieved ideas we need to get away from.
you may get a parsonage with 12k a year and that is reasonable.. I make around 20k working a full time job supporting my own rent.
either way with or with out a parsonage, I believe the pastor could look for some part time or full time work to help with income exspecially if the church is to small.Roger S.April, 22 2012First off, Roger, just for clarification, I’ve lived in three different parsonages through my career, and except for the first youth ministry position I’ve always made more with the parsonage than what you’re saying is unrealistic. It all depends on the size of the congregation. However, most of my career I’ve been in well established congregations in or close to the Bible Belt. I realize that in many smaller churches what you are saying is true, but it’s not a rule.
Not wanting to repeat all the good points already made, let me just add this. When my grandfather preached it was a common perception, among members and many preachers that in three or four years they had shared everything they know, and it was time to move on. In that scenario a parsonage is a good option, after all you’re not gaining any equity in that short of a time. My uncle (grandfather’s son) was also a preacher, he stayed in the same congregation for 40 years. In his case a parsonage would have been financially terrible. My brother and I both preach for congregations that provide parsonages, without them we would both find it impossible to support our families in our respective congregations. The problem for both of us in the long run will be the financial repercussions and safety issues that arrive from living in parsonage, and in his case it’s a very old house. Both of us are committed to staying long term, but in these cases the parsonage works against us.Kenneth ClappApril, 22 2012Up until 3 years ago, I had lived in parsonages my entire life. (I’m 48). If the church takes care of you, the parsonage is okay. If they don’t, it a miserable existence. I just bought our parsonage from the church and it is located about a mile away from the church. (so nice for privacy. All the rest were next to the building). This congregation has been wonderful to work with for 20 years and we made a win/win situation with the house. On the bad side is the tax situation. We pay SS on a house that we never own, get no equity in and usually are paid less salary so the next guy can live there too and so on. When we move, we get no value from the house. If you are given raises as a percentage, the parsonage works against you unless the church adds FMV to that income. Churches I or my dad worked for never did that. Biggest issue is how long do you think you will stay with a congregation. If you prefer to move around, then the parsonage is the way to go. If you prefer to stay long term, you need your own place. My biggest thing with churches is to make sure they let the preacher feel like the house is his until they move. I have had churches decide every color of paint, when to repair, what to repair and so on without ever talking to us. That is frustrating to say the least.Jim DillingerApril, 23 2012In many rural areas, housing is a big issue for everyone — not just preachers. Apartments are often difficult to find. Many houses are sold “word of mouth” and not even advertized. Also, the preacher’s salary is usually not enough to buy a house. Realistically, many rural preachers are there to gain experience and then move on. All of this makes it almost a necessity for a congregation to provide a home. However, I agree that ministers need to be as diligent as others and provide for their retirement.Larry FitzgeraldApril, 23 2012Something that has been “overlooked” but not forgotten, we are not just discussing just a home for a minister . . . but one for his wife and family. What happens to them if he should die? Where is their home? If the congregation owns it, then what happens to them? They need a new home. A relative of mine, who was a minister, lived in parsonages up until the last few years of life. He died in his early 40’s, leaving a wife and three teenage daughters. He finally got a home a couple years before he passed. But, what would have happened to his family if he had not.DanaApril, 24 2012Another issue involves stewardship. Congregations often spend thousands of dollars annually on a piece of property. These parsonages are many times simply money pits. They need new windows, new roofs, etc. Plus each time a minister moves on they may involve complete renovations. Members spend countless hours on keeping them up. I’ve seen congregations spend weeks/months getting a parsonage ready for a new minister. Could not this time be spent in more meaningful evangelistic endeavors?
Elders/congregations serving as landlords is one more duty that they do not need to have. There are too many pressing issues/concerns facing the body of Christ. However, have not many of us seen men’s business meetings and elders’ meetings where the “preacher’s house” is the main topic of discussion?
If possible, get rid of the house and pay the man of God a good salary so that he can provide a place of residence for his family.Brian JonesApril, 24 2012Hey folks. I was just cleaning out our spam filter and found at least four comments in there that were legit and related to this post. I approved them, and they’re mixed in here. A few of you may have posted a second time since your comments were erroneously marked as spam. Apologies.Erik TryggestadApril, 25 2012Kenneth Clapp commented that the Fair Rental Value of a parsonage must be added to taxable income. As a minister and a tax accountant, I can tell you that that is not so. For most employees living in housing owned by their employer it is true, but not for ministers. Also, an additional amount may be deducted from taxable income as a Housing Allowance for household expenses such as utilities (including cable, phone and internet) and cleaning and maintenance expenses paid by the minister. This can even be done where the minister has a second home (or RV that qualifies as a second home)!David BaederApril, 26 2012David Baeder, is it not true that the FRV for a parsonage is income for social security tax purposes?
Stan H.Stan H.April, 26 2012David, I would like more information on this if you can point me in the direction. I’ve used several different accountants over the years and they all handled this the same way – doesn’t mean they were right, just that I would need more info to have an intelligent conversation with my accountant :). Feel free to email me: [email protected] if you get a chance and it’s appropriate.Kenneth ClappApril, 26 2012