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Is a parsonage or housing allowance deductible?

As a licensed, commissioned, or ordained minister, you may be able to deduct the fair market value of a home, a parsonage (in-kind housing), or a housing allowance.

A clergy person is not allowed the special housing allowance if the church has not previously designated an amount in writing. The church must have this in writing before you can use it.

You can deduct the lowest of these amounts:

  • The amount actually used to provide or rent a home
  • The fair market rental value of the home (including furnishings, utilities, garage, etc.)
  • The amount officially designated (in advance of payment) as a rental or housing allowance
  • An amount which represents reasonable pay for services

The housing allowance payments must be used in the year received and any allowance that exceeds actual housing expenses counts as income.

Although the excludable portion of clergy housing isn't subject to federal income tax, you'll still have to pay self-employment taxes on it.

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