Ministers of religion

By Tolley
Ministers of religion

The following Employment Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Ministers of religion
  • Self assessment tax return
  • Other income
  • Living accommodation
  • Gifts and voluntary payments
  • Lower-paid ministers
  • National Minimum Wage

Most ministers of religion or members of the clergy are either office-holders or employees and so their earnings are taxable under ITEPA 2003 as employment income and are subject to Class 1 National Insurance.

For the purposes of the tax system, a minister does not have to belong to any particular religion or denomination, so could equally well be a Church of England vicar, a Roman Catholic priest, a rabbi or an imam. But a monk or nun does not count as a minister of religion for tax purposes, nor do ordinary lay people employed by a church or other religious organisations.

Where tax law or HMRC guidance talks about a ‘church’ in this context, it means any building specifically used as a place of worship, including a synagogue, mosque or temple.

The tax and National Insurance rules set out below only apply to ministers of religion who are currently working as such. If a minister of religion takes up a different type of job, for example as a teacher or church administrator, then he is subject to the normal tax rules.

Self assessment tax return

Although the employment income of a minister of religion is subject to PAYE in the normal way, there is a slight difference in the routine procedures if the minister is also within self assessment. There is a special supplementary page to the self assessment return, SA102M , which ministers of religion have to complete instead of an ordinary employment supplementary page. As with other pages of the tax return, HMRC issues a guidance note  to help filling in the SA102M.

Other income

A minister may also receive fees for work he undertakes outside the area to which he is formally assigned. For example, he may receive fees for preaching in a church in another

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