April 13, 2009

death and taxes

Benjamin Franklin once said that nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes.

Well... yesterday proves that one of those things is just as in question as everything else. Christ is Risen - Christ is Risen Indeed! And that means that even the forces of death have been defeated.

Taxes on the other hand... well, I got home from Easter dinner and realized that I pretty much had 36 hours to get mine done. I leave tomorrow morning for our conference School for Ministry (all about the emerging church... yay!) - but that means that I have to get them done BEFORE I leave.

And let me tell you... clergy taxes are the worst thing on the face of the planet.

It doesn't help that there are things called housing exclusions and housing allowances and parsonage allowances and that the GCFA site, which tries to help with all of this says: "The housing allowance is sometimes called a “parsonage allowance” for clergy who are provided with a parsonage and a “rental allowance” for clergy who rent their home." And then goes on to use the generic "housing allowance" - or is it the specific "housing allowance" for the rest of the form. I just need to know if my exclusion has already been taken out or not... or if I have to add it on! ahhhhh.

I figured things out on paper last night and got all the information and numbers I need. Tonight, I'll head over to my parent's and use their handy super Turbo Tax small business edition and hopefully I'll have to pay less than what my paper numbers showed me.

Some things for new clergy people to learn from this:

1) put any receipt you have from any work-meal/supplies purchase in a box.

2) put any reciept you have from any home purchase (furniture, cleaning supplies, paper towels) in a box.

3) put any reciept you have from any medical related expense... in a box.

4) put all of your utility bills... in a box

5) keep a travel log of where you went, miles, general reason for going... might as well keep it in your car, and not in a box

6) sit down with your treasurer and try to wade through all of the craziness that is the housing exclusion (or allowance, or whatever it is you have) - make sure you are all on the same page.

7) every time you get paid for a funeral, wedding, speaking engagement - write it down and put it in your handy dandy little box.

8) every time your church gives you a gift of money, like through a love offering or Christmas gift - write it down and put it in your handy dandy little box.

9) I'm sure this list will keep growing as I realize what other things I learned, and or things I forgot this year are pointed out to me.


  1. What if you have a box in your car for your mileage? :)

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