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This sample policy covers short term salary conditions for employees who work 30 hours or more per week.

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SECA Tax is a form that self employed business owners must pay based on their net earnings from self employement.

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This publication will help you better understand the tax rules that apply to your 403(b) (tax-sheltered annuity) plan. You will understand and identify excessive contributions, basic rules for claiming the retirement savings, and more.

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This policy covers published media information disclosing confidential material, this information should comply with legal and law policies..

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These interview questions will serve as a helpful guide when interviewing possible employees.

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The Personnel Team represents and assists the Administration Team in meeting its oversight responsibility with respect to the human resource functions of the church.

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The following policies will serve as guidelines for all of your staff to ensure that all staff are treated consistently and fairly.

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This policy ensures that the Church operates free from discrimination, setting aside race, color, gender, age, etc..

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IRS Topic 762 explains the difference in common law between independent contractors and employees.

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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a government agency that manages and inspects lawful immigration to the United States.

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These examples provide the employee with a keen awareness and knowledgeable sense to avoid illegal questions.

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The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information (“Privacy Rule”) inaugurates an array of national standards for the protection of certain health information.

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) affects most private and public employment. It establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards.

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This personnel policies and procedures handbook is intended to provide guidelines and summary information about the church's personnel policies, procedures, benefits, and rules of conduct.

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A Pre-Authorized Remittance form is provided.

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Understand the Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR) program from an administrative viewpoint.

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PAR stands for Pre-Authorized Remittance. PAR is a “direct debit” program that allows people to give through an automatic monthly withdrawal from their bank account.

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Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

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You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. IRS Publication 526 discusses the organizations that qualify to receive deductible contributions.

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The following example is what an IRS-compliant and member-friendly statement looks like.

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This document explains how to claim a deduction for your charitable contributions. The types of organizations to which you can make deductible charitable contributions are explained in the following link,

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Are you tired of writing checks? The Electronic Funds Transfer is the easiest and safest way of donating your gifts of any amount.

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These offering vouchers are prepaid giving forms that can be dropped in the offering plate instead of currency.

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New rules, which went into effect on January 1, 2007, specify that for any contribution of cash, check or other monetary gift, a donor must maintain the following information.

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This is the Our Church Quickbooks Zip file. It is needed for the Steps to Download and Use Quickbooks file.

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This article was awesome. I hope this gets in the hands of congregation members. I have talked to many pastors who have had times of weeping because all they hear is criticism. Some pastors go through long spells of no appreciation shown. Unfortuantely, many pators are "expendable" to them--if they don't like somethign, they can be run out of town and treated like garbage.

Here are some stats that Thabiti Anyabwile cites from The Schaeffer Institute in an article he writes called "Don't Make Your Pastor a Statistic." http://www.9marks.org/blog/dont-make-your-pastor-statistic I hope the stats are better for our denomination.

Health and Well-Being

  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if
    they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Marriage and Family

  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
  • 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
  • 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.

Church Relationships

  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend

Longevity

  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
  • 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form

I agree with both comments here - how does one "suggest" that their position be brought from volunteer to paid?  I have seen various "jobs" being brought into our church for pay while others, like myself, continue to take more and more time and only get a "thanks" or "high five".  I have hinted on several occasions that I should be compensated but to no avail.  I do not know where to go from here.  I am beginning to feel like my work is unappreciated as well as not worth it.  Thank you for any suggestion that you may have.

Great idea for another webinar! John Bolt will be covering the Canadian clergy residence deduction and retirement planning in the Barnabas webinar Sep. 6 and CRC webinar Oct. 10 (see last week's network post).  Is there an administrator at a church in Canada and Canadian CRCNA staff that would lead a Canadian payroll webinar?

Thanks, Sheri. I'm thinking this is for US admin assistants mainly. Would it be of interest and benefit to Canadian folks? If not, is there something that could be set up for them? I think it would be helpful; I know Cdn and US tax laws for charities, pastors and churches have similarites, but the devil is in the details.

This might be a bit late to this party here, but there is another great system worth checking out called Fresh Vine. It has been purposed to be very intuitive and easy to use for managing your church. Their site is http://FreshVine.co/ - it's worth a look.

We ran into the same issue.  We don't have a church secretary to manage all this so it was a huge task.  

We have used two things to really streamline things and found both helpful.  They are free.

1) Send out a form to all volunteers on a quarterly basis before we create a schedule.  We use a Google form that we send out to all our volunteers asking them when they are available.  Their responses are automatically recorded in a spreadsheet.  So we have all the info at our fingertips when making the schedule --way easier than what we were doing and people don't have to switch as much.  Here is a blog I wrote a while back to explain what we do with a sample form (I shared this with local pastors).  This saves the amount of time that the main scheduler has to do things.

2) Service Builder: This is a free worship planning site that has a song database and has added some really cool features for volunteers.  Multiple people can schedule and it will highlight if a person is schedule for multiple tasks.  Another cool feature is that it can automatically email or text (they have to set it up) people to let them know when they servce.  We use it for attendance too.  I just wrote a blog about this as well that has more info.  I wrote it because my main issue with ServiceBuilder is you can't see much without creating an account.  I tried to put up some images for people to see.  I have let other pastors from our Classis join our church's account to check it out in more depth before they create their own account.  Would be willing to do this for others too!  Message me directly and I can set it up for you.

Thanks.  I'll take a look.  I know we are still using a more manual method.  I could send you a screen shot or two of the reports I had been generating, as well as the fields we have found need to get tracked.

Once a year the denomination sends out a questionaire\survey that your clerk of records typically fills out.  This would include things like births, baptisms, deaths, marriages, etc..  We record the information for our records and the denomination.  We also provide a Baptism certificate for the family.

Rebecca.

It was not my intention to hide anything.  Thanks for pointing that out and I will be sure to use more specific wording in the future.  I am the author of the software and my church is also a user.

Thanks

jjj

I did check out this software, and while doing so discovered that Jon is not just a user of the software but the developer (as he'd mentioned in another post here on the network.) In the interest of disclosure, I just wanted others who might research this thread to be aware of his material connection to the product he recommends.

I am not sure yet if this will be the solution we choose, but it does appear to be a comprehensive solution that will meet this need for some churches.

The Letter of Call link is now working again!

posted in: Letter of Call

The Letter of Call doesn't seem to be there at the link anymore.  If I can figure out where it is I'll let you know.

posted in: Letter of Call

Thanks! I will check this out.

We have used a program called SmartRoster for many years www.smartroster.net.  You can try it for free for 45 days.  Our church has been using it for about six years. I believe it is an upfront cost then an annual license fee (the fee for our church is about $80 a year). It is worth every penny.  We have one person that oversees the database...me.  We were able to import our names/addresses/phones and email addresses from PowerChurch.  We then set up the areas we needed.  We have a larger church.  We have about 1000 names in our church database now with SmartRoster.  We schedule for two services (some areas 3). We schedule for two areas of nursery, five other morning children's programs, ushers, greeters, and security.  We can schedule families together on the same week.  Our volunteers tell us when they are not able to serve (via email).  They LOVE this.  We send out email reminders to volunteers a few days before they are to serve. When looking to fill a holiday or needing more volunteers, our response rate to email is so much better than a bulletin announcement.  I hope that helps.  Would be happy to talk more to you if you need more info.  The support at SmartRoster is great.  I hope that helps!

Definitely this is an option to consider. We have 11 different people making schedules right now (every ministry = different scheduler), so that would be a lot to juggle, but not impossible.

Thanks, Jon, I will check this out.

We have this same issue at our church.  Although there may be a better way to do this, the steps we have taken are to stagger the schedule making.  One ministry makes their schedule then the next ministry looks at that schedule and makes their schedule accordingly and so on... The most flexible ministry schedules last and this master schedule is maintained through the church office.  This has made a big difference in avoiding the overlapping of members serving on Sunday mornings.  It does take cooperation on the part of those making the schedules but it works for us.

We use a church management system.  Go here and check it out.  There is an online demo.  Its very reasonable in price too.  http://www.glxyinc.com/

Hello.  I am in ministry at a local church in Medina, Ohio.  I have written a church management application on the web that might suit your needs.  There is a monthly subscription but that is negotiable.  It’s called Grassroots CMS and you can go to this site http://165.236.143.12/ and login with username demo and password demo.  Let me know what you think and maybe we can talk.  The cool thing about my software is that if you want it to do something I can change it custom for your church!

There is a directory of chaplains in the back of the CRC Yearbook.  In the 2012 Yearbook, the list runs from page 687-689.  I'm assuming from the length that it's a complete list, but the chaplains office is probably a better place to verify that.

You will need to work through the Form 8941 and check if you qualify again this year. The IRS rules didn't change this year so if everything else was similar, you will likely qualify again this year.

Our church pays 100% family health coverage for pastors but a lower percentage for lay employees.  I know that this was ok for the 2010 tax credit but will we still qualify in 2011?

Help!

Chaplain (MAJ) InSoon (Gho) Hoagland is the only chaplain I am aware of that was stationed at Fort Hood.
She is in Korea right now.  I'm sure she'd love to hear from them.

insoon.j.gho@us.army.mil
CH (MAJ) InSoon Hoagland
Division Family Life Center
2nd Infantry Division
Box # 1012
B CO 2ID, Unit 15041
APO, AP  96258

Jason,

Thanks for the question about locating chaplains. We have provided two ways to find chaplains on our denominational web page (crcna.org/chaplaincy):

1) A directory of chaplains by category (Military, Hospital, etc.) and then by name  -- look in the left hand column for Directory

2) An interactive map (good for looking in a geographic region) -- top left corner

Unfortunately we just did an upgrade to this map to make it work more quickly and I see that it is showing only a smattering of the 123 current chaplains. I will send a note to I.T. and hope that it is fixed soon. You should be able to zoom in to any area, click on any dot and learn who is there where they are employed.

Blessings,

Ron Klimp - Dir. of Chaplaincy and Care

You are probably well underway, but Dan Hotchkiss, Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, provides a sample outline of materials that could or should be included in a policy manual. See. p. 218 for his outline. I strongly recommend the book for other uses, including getting one's church council to focus on policy making as a primary task.

As to the "retirement gift" to the pastor, I'm quite certain (this from a lawyers perspective, not an accountant's perspective) that the IRS would regard the gift as taxable income.  The IRS would analogize to tips to waiters (also taxable) or bonuses to employees (also taxable), insisting that the amount "given" to the pastor in this case was related to (and therefor because of) the pastor's service, as would be a waiter's tip or an employee's bonus.  In a sense, the IRS would be saying this was not really a gift but money given in return for service, even if the compensation had not been negotiated as compensation (neither are tips or some bonuses).

I better case (that it was not taxable) could be made if members of the congregation aggregately contributed to a gift to the pastor's family, even if that gift was coordinated by the church.

Thanks for the heads up and ideas. None of us ever says thank you enough, and as for me it is so encouraging to be appreciated!

Each year Synod designates up to 100% as housing allowance for retired U.S. ministers. According to Worth's Income Tax Guide for Ministers, the eligible retired minister is then responsible "to show as taxable on Form 1040, line 16b, any designated distributions not spent for parsonage expenses."  The gross amount is entered on Form 1040, line 16a.

Thank you for your reply.  It confirms my suspicion that Turbo Tax is incorrect (line 53).

Harvey

According to IRS Pub 517, retired ministers are allowed to exclude the amount of the housing allowance from their gross income, just as working ministers are.

Form 1040 Line 16a should be the total amount reported to you on Form 1099R Line 1.  If the CRC has designated a certain amount as housing allowance, they should have already excluded that amount from line 2a on Form 1099R.  2a should go onto Line 16b of Form 1040.

If the taxable amount was not determined on 1099R, you may deduct the value of the designated housing allowance from Line 1 of 1099R and put that value on line 16b of Form 1040.

The housing allowance definitely does not belong on line 53.

Sheri might be able to provide some more color here, since she is familiar with pensions in general, and the CRC pension system in particular.

Thanks John,

In my original request, I should have said that I am retired and receive a CRC pension which, via Synod, can be used toward housing allowance.  If I report the pension on line 16a where do I deduct the ammount attributable to housing--16b? or 21 (as the tax preparer did last year)? or on line 53 as Turbo Tax does?

Harvey

First of all, it all depends on whether you get a 1099 or a W-2.  Assuming you are a W-2 church employee, your housing allowance is not subject to income tax, and should not be included in your W-2 wages on Line 3 of Form 1040.  However, your housing allowance may be subject to self-employment tax (which covers SS, Medicare, etc.).  See IRS Publication 517 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p517.pdf) for more information on income from religious employment.

Technology can also help with keeping the doors locked (and avoiding the issue of keys).  Use a card access system on one or two exterior doors that your members would use to get into the building during the week.  You can typically program these doors to lock and unlock at specific days/times.  You issue access cards (instead of keys) to the people that need to have them.  If they lose the access card or they leave your church membership and don't return the card, you can just deactivate the card.  It's a bit pricey up front, but pays for itself in the long run.  A good company to work with in the Grand Rapids area (one of the owners is a member of Shawnee Park CRC and her dad is a retired CRC minister) is SecurAlarm Systems.

I have an IRS tax question.  Using Turbo Tax, my housing allowance is a "credit" ammount appearing on line 53.  Last year a tax preparer put it under  "income," line 21 as negative income ("less housing allowance").  Which is correct?

Thanks

Harvey

In future, it would be avisable to give all or part of such a gift in a later year, if the person is retiring, in order to reduce the impact on income taxes payable. 

Thank you...I ordered a copy of the Zondervan tax guide and will look it over. And I'm trying to find a tax advisor in my area who would be familiar with this. Thank you for your help!

Zondervan's Church and Nonprofit Tax Guide states that the "payment of the love offering is taxable and subject to payroll tax treatment...."  There are three exceptions noted but these don't seem to fit the situation.  It would be advisable for you to speak with a tax advisor to receive definitive word on this question.

I think Ron has made a good point.  Exit interviews can be useful, but sometimes those who depart will not be willing to actively participate for various reasons.   They may be afraid that whatever constructive criticism they might give, could be taken in the wrong way, just because they are leaving, when the reasons for leaving are entirely different, ie. personal family, friends, business opportunities, lifestyle, etc.  and have nothing really to do with the church itself.  On the other hand, I think it is wise to provide the opportunity. 

This new system works well for our family. We do our serious giving electronically. During each worship service we give a token representation of what we gave quietly through the online system.

Kyle - Why does giving have to be communal?  From what I've read in the Bible, the tithe and offering are always referenced as an individual act.

Do you still have a time during the service to acknowledge the communal act of giving?  Does most of the church give this way?

Thanks for your help, Kyle 

Thank you for the good information.  Our church church accepts ACH donations, but when we considered accepting contributions via credit card we couldn't get past the concerns that we might be contributing to members' credit card debt and those negative connotations surrounding credit cards that you referred to .  How did your church get past those concerns?  And has your giving increased or stayed the same, or is it too early to tell?

Thanks Dick for relating your church's experience with on-line giving.  In Canada, the Christian Reformed Church offers a value-added service to the churches to facilitate giving by electronic funds.  It's referred to as the Pre-Authorized Remittance or PAR program.  While on-line giving is generally considered a "push" system, as the donor determines when and how much to give and initiates the transaction on-line, the PAR program is a "pull" system, whereby, based on a pre-authorization by the donor, the church initiates the transaction.  There are no costs for churches participating in the PAR program.  About 90 CRC congregations are currently participating.

A brochure providing details regarding the Christian Reformed Church's PAR program in Canada can be accessed at http://www.crcna.org/site_uploads/uploads/admintools/ParBrochure.pdf 

There are also charity service providers which provide on-line giving services on behalf of other charities.  The fee for such a service is generally a percentage of gifts processed.  CanadaHelps is probably the best known and largest organization of this kind in Canada, having processed over $54,000,000 in gifts to other charities in 2011.

Terry Veldboom

In the world of business, departing employees or clients are often too timid or shy or appreciative or apathetic to give a critical analysis of their employer.  It may even be that they would love to have stayed on but other factors have forced them to leave.  The same can occur with departing congregation members.  If the reason for leaving is "within" the congregation itself, they may not wish to voice their concerns (and risk offending friends and family).  If they are departing for reasons other than something "within" the congregation, they may feel it unnecessary to criticize an institution they've felt comfortable with. 

I've found that the most effective question (as regards eliciting a response) is "I value your opinion so, if you HAD to change anything here, what would it be?"  The answer can definitely be more comfortably delivered and can definitely be more easily shared and accepted.  You may find out about flaws or misperceptions that the departee was aware of that had nothing to do with the departure... or that had everything to do with the departure.   It makes for a good "last question" on the questionnaire.

 The New York State Senate passed a bill on Monday, February 6, 2012  that would allow churches to continue holding worship services in public schools as long as it was when no school events were scheduled.  

The credit is limited to non-voluntary taxes withheld so churches with only a minister who has a self-employed status would not be eligible.  According to IRS regulations, most "staff"  do not qualify as contractors and should be receiving W-2's.  Therefore, staff taxes (FICA and Medicare--employee and employer) withheld would be eligible for the credit and the staff AND minister's health insurance premiums could then be counted in the calculations.  This credit will be most helpful for churches that have one or more full-time staff (in addition to the self-employed minister) receiving health insurance benefits. This is my understanding of the available credit.

Our experience at Peace Community CRC has been that since I am considered "self-employed" the church withheld no taxes for me.  No taxes withheld=nothing to get a credit from. Hence, the IRS has rejected our claim.

Also, like many small churches, all of our staff are considered contractors because we deduct no taxes for and file 1099s for them.

I guess it was worth a try, but it was somewhat of a waste of time.

It looks like the 990-T for 2011 hasn't been posted yet by the IRS.  Last year it was posted in early March so mark your calendar for March to apply for the health insurance credit.

Churches in the Christian Reformed Church denomination typically utilize the 501(c)3 status of the denomination.

Discussing with the IRS the possibility of still filing a 990-T for 2010 sounds like the best way to resolve your question about whether you may still file. Let us know!

Thanks for sharing this information! I'm a CPA, and I'm trying to find out some details about this credit. I called the IRS today, and they weren't much help.

My first question is if churches that haven't ever filed to be "official" 501(c)3s can qualify. The instructions for the 8941 state that only non-profits covered by section 501(c) can qualify (other non-profits don't qualify). I know all churches are treated by the IRS as though they have 501(c)3 status (contributions to them are deductible, etc) but, unless a church files a Form 1023, they aren't technically a 501(c)3, so they aren't covered by 501(c) (at least that's my thinking). Have any churches that haven't filed a Form 1023 sucessfully applied for this credit? The person I talked to at the IRS today said that since churches aren't techically covered by 501(c), then they can claim the 35% credit instead of the 25% credit that applies to non-profits, but I am SURE this is not true.

My other question is if a church that just now finds out about this can still file a 990-T for 2010. A different IRS person I talked to today said that since the church was not required to file the 990-T, there is no deadline for filing it, and it can still file for the credit for 2010. That answer made some sense to me. If a non-profit had filed a 990, but had not filed a 990-T and claimed the credit for 2010, it could just file an amended 990 for 2010, add on the 990-T and 8941, and still get the credit. So, a church shouldn't be penalized just because it was not required to file the 990 in the first place.

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