All posts from “February 2011”

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February 24, 2011

Pay Raises for Pastors and Church Staff in 2011?

Increases may come at many American companies. Will churches follow?

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A recent Wall Street Journal headline immediately caught my eye: “Higher Pay Gains Seen for 2011.

The article goes on to explain the very real chance American workers will receive bigger pay raises this year:

With corporate America sitting on large piles of cash and manufacturers seeing a surge in exports to fast-growing emerging markets, signs are mounting that some of the benefits will start trickling down to employees.
This could mean average wage gains of as much as 3% in 2011, compared with 1.7% in 2010—enough to boost consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy, but not so much that it would stoke concerns of an inflationary spiral.

In addition, a recent issue of Kiplinger highlights the U.S. economy is on track for GDP growth of 3.5% this year, up from last year’s 2.9%.

While I doubt many churches are sitting on large cash reserves, these headlines make me wonder—will churches give pastors and staff members raises this year? A couple of weeks ago, my church approved 3% raises for the senior pastor and staff (we’re a congregation of about 120 people). Will yours?

It’s a serious question. If you chair a church board, it’s worth a long, hard look. After a multiyear recession, many churches implemented pay freezes to help weather budget challenges. A recent article on ChurchLawAndTax.com illustrates why now is the time to reevaluate:

Continue reading Pay Raises for Pastors and Church Staff in 2011?...

February 23, 2011

Holiday Pushes Back Due Date for Taxes

Federal tax-filers get a few extra days.

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Haven't started your federal taxes yet?

As February fast draws to a close, you may be encouraged to know that you get an extra three days to work on 2010 filings. From this morning's Richard Hammar's Essential Reminders:

"Taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15," reports the IRS.

February 22, 2011

Online Resource for Church Law and Tax Help

ChurchLawAndTax.com offers leaders comprehensive info

We’re pleased to announce the launch of ChurchLawAndTax.com (formerly ChurchLawToday.com).

We’ve given the site a fresh, new look to serve church leaders like you even better. You’ll find an updated Archives of the Church Law & Tax Report newsletter through 2010 (that's nearly 25 years' worth of past editions) and extensive updates to the Legal Library, a comprehensive, fully searchable reference written by Richard Hammar for pastors, board members, and church leaders. We’ve also revolutionized the Weekly Lessons quiz feature to improve your learning experience.

BONUS:

A new, free Updates section of ChurchLawAndTax.com highlights information pertinent to church leaders and includes:

Continue reading Online Resource for Church Law and Tax Help...

February 17, 2011

Help for Pastors During Tax Season

Upcoming resources to help wade through tax laws that affect clergy.

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The "The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010," passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in mid-December, triggered a domino-like effect of changes for tax-filers--so much so that even the Internal Revenue Service delayed its efforts to process returns (it finally began doing so on Monday).

For pastors, the tax-filing process already is a cumbersome one. As Richard Hammar notes in the upcoming edition of Church Law & Tax Report, there are at least 20 common tax-filing mistakes that clergy make each year, either because they filed their own returns and didn't understand how various laws applied or because they used a tax professional who didn't understand the unique complexities that apply to clergy. Among the mistakes frequently made:

Continue reading Help for Pastors During Tax Season ...

February 14, 2011

Evangelicals and Money: Stingy, Generous, or Just Right?

Eight voices weigh in on the generosity of American Christians.

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Last week, we pointed to research data highlighted by our sister magazine Christianity Today regarding average tithing levels among Christians. This week, we point to a series of short quotes obtained by Christianity Today from a variety of evangelical voices based on this question: Are American evangelicals stingy with their giving?

Of the eight responses, here are two—one answering an emphatic "yes," the other an emphatic "no":

Continue reading Evangelicals and Money: Stingy, Generous, or Just Right?...

February 10, 2011

Ten Steps to Tax Reporting

A new, free PDF offers helpful payroll tax reminders for churches.

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Looking for a helpful—and easy—way to remember federal payroll tax reporting requirements as a church? Check out this handy, printer-friendly PDF we've prepared titled "Ten Steps to Tax Reporting."

Here's a sneak peek:

10) Complete Forms 1099-MISC and 1096. Must be issued to any nonemployee who is paid compensation of at least $600 during any year.

9) Determine the amount of income tax to withhold from each employee’s wages. The amount of federal income tax the employer should withhold from an employee’s wages may be computed in a number of ways—the most common are the wage bracket method and the percentage method.

Read the remaining eight by downloading the PDF.

February 8, 2011

When Tithe Doesn't Mean Tenth

Average income given to churches appears on the decline.

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Our sister publication Christianity Today magazine published some interesting new data from church giving research in its February issue.

Specifically, the average percentage of income given to churches appears on the decline, measuring 2.43 percent in 2008 (compared to 2.59 percent in 1985 and 3.11 percent in 1968). The magazine smartly includes additional data on all religious giving (not just to churches), which helps paint a more representative picture of the many ways that Christians give.

We're watching this subject particularly close this week as we launch the survey for the 2011 State of the Plate. We're hoping to hear from church leaders like you about how tithing went during 2010, and any effects on the budget--bad or good. Do you see commonalities between the decline in average income given to churches reported by Christianity Today and your congregation? What did that mean for your church in 2010, and how are you preparing for 2011?