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Rev_Phil

About Taxation

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Hello everyone. I have a couple of general questions that I'm not exactly sure on whom to ask. I've already searched the Forums here and haven't quite found the answers. I've also looked at the IRS website, but I couldn't find the answer either, mostly because their jargon is slightly confusing. I've been ordained for a few years now and I've just recently found all sorts of free time to be available to offer services as an ordained minister.

So I'm going to ask them here, and if I need to consult a legal professional or tax professional, please let me know. I'm figuring I'm going to have to, but also thought maybe someone here might know the answers. I tend to have very specific questions needing specific answers, and that's just how my life generally is.

Since I do believe in charging for my services, do I have to report that on my tax income return?

Do I have to get an EIN (taxpayers ID number)?

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Since I do believe in charging for my services, do I have to report that on my tax income return?

Do I have to get an EIN (taxpayers ID number)?

You may find your answer in the FAQs here in this forum, but you might have to extract the info from longer less specific texts. The short answer is yes. You do have to pay taxes as YOU are not a church. You, even though a minister, are an individual and individuals must pay tax on any income you receive, even if it comes from a church. You do not need an EIN because you will simply use your social security number. You will report your income as a self employed person, reporting estimated quarterly income.

Were you to employ others then that is a completely different situation. If you were to form a church then the church may have to get an EIN but your income from that church is still taxable to you as above but possibly as an emplyee.

As always, this is not to be construed as legal advice as that should only come from a licensed attorney in your state of residence.

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So I'm going to ask them here, and if I need to consult a legal professional or tax professional, please let me know.
Yeah. The vagaries of state and local tax codes get pretty complex. Before paying a professional, however, you might want to check the free(state, local and federal)tax help-lines and web pages, as well as resources in you area designed to help people starting a new small business. Just remember that free advice should always be taken with a grain of salt (especially free advice from strangers like me)...

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Hi Rev. Phil,

What those guys said seems exactly on point to me.

In my non-expert view, you only need an EIN, and to obtain 501 C3 (charitable organization) status from the IRS, if you form a church as a separate organization other than yourself, and the church is going to receive contributions which contributors want to deduct from their taxes as charitable contributions. Then the church can receive donations which are deductable by the donor, and the church does not have to pay tax on the donations as if they were income. That money cannot be used for your personal benefit. Once a church or charitable organization pays you, then you are responsible for paying taxes on that income.

But to keep it simple, usually someone will just pay you directly for your services and that money is taxable income.

Edited by Carl Harry Carlson

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No, I hardly take anything online as legal advice, just something to point me in the right direction. No, I am not employed by or attached to a church. And yes, I'd rather use free services than having to pay a professional money just for a couple of questions.

I've thought about maybe somewhere down the road of establishing a church/ministry/related services business, but I am undecided if I would want to go for the 501 C3 status right away. That is to say that I would be starting a business whose sole purpose would be the assistance and officiating of ceremonies before shifting to 501 C3 status. I don't expect to make a lot of money by offering my services. Not being pessimistic, just realistic.

Now, for another question or two.

As I stated above that I believe in charging for my services, would it be okay for me to come up with a service agreement that states what I am and am not to be held liable for, that final payment/payment in full is due prior to service, and that the client(s) are to be held financially and legally responsible as to the above terms and conditions?

The second question then is would I have to get such a document notarized?

I apologize for asking questions that may not be able to be answered, but I figure I'm not the only one with such questions. If I haven't, thanked you all yet, well thank you for the responses given so far and thanks in advance to any further responses.

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No, I hardly take anything online as legal advice, just something to point me in the right direction. No, I am not employed by or attached to a church. And yes, I'd rather use free services than having to pay a professional money just for a couple of questions.

I've thought about maybe somewhere down the road of establishing a church/ministry/related services business, but I am undecided if I would want to go for the 501 C3 status right away. That is to say that I would be starting a business whose sole purpose would be the assistance and officiating of ceremonies before shifting to 501 C3 status. I don't expect to make a lot of money by offering my services. Not being pessimistic, just realistic.

Now, for another question or two.

As I stated above that I believe in charging for my services, would it be okay for me to come up with a service agreement that states what I am and am not to be held liable for, that final payment/payment in full is due prior to service, and that the client(s) are to be held financially and legally responsible as to the above terms and conditions?

The second question then is would I have to get such a document notarized?

I apologize for asking questions that may not be able to be answered, but I figure I'm not the only one with such questions. If I haven't, thanked you all yet, well thank you for the responses given so far and thanks in advance to any further responses.

It is much easier to create a non-profit with 501c status right off the bat than try to obtain a 501c for a corporation that was set up without every T crossed and every I dotted with the intent to obtain 501c. Food for thought. But then, a ministry with the sole purpose of doing weddings may have a tough time qualifying as a 501c without some avenue to expend those funds in a charitable manner.

Service agreements are fine as long as they do not attempt to circumvent the law or reduce liability where laws specifically lay responsibilities. Such a document is not required to be notarized under Texas law, but may very well be required to be in some states. It should definitely be witnessed. Someone knowledgeable with procedural law in your state would be of much greater information.

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Thanks again.

As I stated above, I'm not sure if I want to be 501c3 off the bat, I might wait and do that later down the road. Of course, that would stay separate from personal dealings. If I do decide to go the route of 501c3, then I will create a non-profit for that explicit purpose. For now, however, it's all strictly business.

That may sound greedy and selfish, but I in no way intend to make it such. For three years I've been ordained, and never really considering offering my services until earlier this year, when a friend found out I was ordained and asked me if I would officiate for him and his fiancee. Personally, I had hoped that my first clients would be someone I know so as to make it a little less awkward feeling. I'm sure that goes away in time once I get comfortable enough doing this.

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when are you performing the ceremony? i am doing my first one next saturday for someone i've met only a few times..a friend/coworker of a good friend...any thoughts, advice?

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when are you performing the ceremony? i am doing my first one next saturday for someone i've met only a few times..a friend/coworker of a good friend...any thoughts, advice?

Before I do a wedding ceremony I have a consultation with the couple. Sometimes more than one if they need/seek premarital counseling. The practice ceremony (if they have one) usually works out most of the kinks.

Some of the questions I ask are:

What type of ceremony do you think you want? Traditional or other? You can find traditional vows, ceremonies, online or you can get a book with various ceremony styles from any decent book store etc.

If Other: Do you have an idea of what style/faith/belief/special requests might they have.

The most common I run into is they want to write their own vows. Sometimes to repeat to each other (which means you need a copy) or they want to say them to each other (which means you'll have to prompt them for them) Either way ask for a copy of each in case they drop/forget/lose them and get that big eyed look during the ceremony.

How they want to proceed, how they want to be presented at the end of the ceremony etc.

Some advice I'd give is:

Whatever style the ceremony.. be prepared.. read the ceremony over a few times. Try to get a sense of timing for what goes where and when. Brides and grooms are supposed to be nervous and stutter, stammer and look big eyed, NOT the official.

If they're particularly nervous, during the vows and ring part of the ceremony (if applicable), ignore the crowd and talk to them by name. It gives them a focus and seems to help clear the fog.

Count on nothing going exactly according to plan.. the flower girl might decide to sit down halfway the aisle.. the ring bearer may decide he wants his mommie and only his mommie and is going to GET his mommie and doesn't care how solemn an occasion it may be. The groom may loose the ability of speech. You get the idea.

Regardless of religious affiliation.. there is an even chance the groom may be tipsy/er/est. There is a better than even chance that no matter how sweet otherwise, the bride is on her last nerve and close to a bloodletting.

Grab them right after the grand exit and sign the license(s) before they get caught up with any other activities. In SC the official has to present the completed license to the clerk of court. Laws may vary by state. But SC doesn't consider them legally married until the license is signed and recorded.

And most importantly, don't take yourself too seriously, this isn't about you or all those people looking at you, its about the couple. Stay focused, have fun, keep it moving, nudge when necessary and lead when needed. Don't eat too much cake

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