Friday, April 18, 2014
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IRS ruling on organist/choir director employment
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The Internal Revenue Service issues Private Letter Rulings related to questions presented to the IRS by taxpayers. These Private Letter Rulings do not have the force of law, but do indicated the position the IRS takes on the question it is asked.

One such ruling issued in 1985 related to whether a church choir director was an employee of the church, or an independent contractor. In March 2010 the IRS issued another such ruling relative to a church organist with the same question, namely: Is a church organist an employee or a self-employed independent contractor?

The Internal Revenue Service issues Private Letter Rulings related to questions presented to the IRS by taxpayers. These Private Letter Rulings do not have the force of law, but do indicated the position the IRS takes on the question it is asked.

One such ruling issued in 1985 related to whether a church choir director was an employee of the church, or an independent contractor. If an employee of the church, the church must issue IRS Form W-2 to the employee reflecting the appropriate amount of Medicare and Social Security taxes. However, if the choir director is deemed to be an independent contractor, the employee is issued a Form 1099-MISC and the employee is required to report such income as a self-employed person on his/her personal income tax return and pay all Social Security and Medicare taxes related to such income.

In March 2010 the IRS issued another such ruling relative to a church organist with the same question, namely: Is a church organist an employee or a self-employed independent contractor?

In both of these documents the IRS strongly suggests that church organists and church choir directors are employees of the church, and that any compensation paid to such persons by the church for their services should be reported on Form W-2.

Even though the church issued to the choir director and/or organist a 1099-MISC and the choir director/organist reported such income on his/her tax return as self-employment income, the IRS can, nonetheless, issue penalties to the church for its failure to report such income as the income of an employee of the church.

The two Private Letter Rulings by the IRS are posted here should a congregation wish to read them in their entirety.

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The two Private Letter Rulings by the IRS are posted here should a congregation wish to read them in their entirety.

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