Housing Allowance allows a minister who is ordained, licensed, or commissioned to receive a designated portion of their salary that is excluded from gross income and not subject to federal income tax.
Back in 1995, the IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) found many opportunities to fine 403(b) plans inside of non-profit hospitals. Since they found so many hospital plans out of compliance, they began to move on to school districts. And guess who's next? That's right—the non-profit Christian organizations.
When an ordained, licensed, or commissioned minister receives a portion of their compensation as housing allowance, that portion is excluded from gross income and therefore not subject to federal income tax. This can represent substantial tax savings for the minister. Further, when an ordained, licensed, or commissioned person retires, a portion of their 403(b)(9) retirement plan distribution can be received as housing allowance, providing additional tax savings in retirement.
Executive Pastors, Business Managers, Board Members, CEO’s, COO’s, and HR Directors associated with Non-Profits are often in the dark when it comes to understanding retirement plans. Often this includes those who are directly responsible for the oversight of their plan or charged with the responsibility of setting up or finding a new vendor.
Retirement Plan compliance is critical as you're a Christian organization and an example to others. Two governing agencies that oversee retirement plans are the IRS and The Department of Labor. You probably don’t want to become an expert on all of the regulations but you certainly want to arm yourself in case one of them shows up on your doorstep.