Pastors can have tax problems just like everyone else. A high moral character and desire to comply with the tax code embodied by the Internal Revenue Service is no guarantee that you wont run afoul of the IRS, though. Its entirely possible to knowingly violate tax laws and be considered a criminal. There is also a distinct possibility of unwittingly violating tax codes and ending up being considered a criminal as well.
The types of problems pastors typically experience with the IRS are of the second variety. Without intending to violate the law, pastors occasionally find themselves in trouble.
Pastors are under a special set of IRS regulations that allow for specified deductions. The tax code changes regularly, and the amount and types of deductions allowed one year can be different the following year. Pastors without experience in personally handling their own tax filing responsibilities should consult professional tax accountants to make sure theyre following the rules.
Occasionally pastors fall into the trap of avoiding taxes due to a process commonly known to the public as shortcutting. A pastor with a low income qualifies for all sorts of tax privileges, but detailed and correct tax filing must be made in order to take advantage of them. Its tempting to shortcut the process by skipping the filing requirements if the benefits seemingly arent worth the headaches to receive them. Failing to file a return or otherwise violating the filing requirements results in a black eye for clergymen and possible penalties as well.
Another common IRS problem experienced by pastors is the dreaded audit. Those giving a substantial amount of their income to qualified charities or other recipients are often red flagged by the IRS in a legitimate attempt to discover tax dodgers trying to reduce taxable income through giving. Pastors that are notified of an audit would do well to have a professional tax accountant go into the audit with them. Even pastors arent immune to IRS problems. Obtaining the services of tax professionals may be expensive, but its worth the cost if it helps avoid run-ins with the Internal Revenue Service.