IRS Tax Forms  
Publication 525 2001 Tax Year

Special Rules for Certain Employees

This part of the publication deals with special rules for people in certain types of employment: members of the clergy, members of religious orders, people working for foreign employers, military personnel, and volunteers.


If you are a member of the clergy, you must include in your income offerings and fees you receive for marriages, baptisms, funerals, masses, etc., in addition to your salary. If the offering is made to the religious institution, it is not taxable to you.

If you are a member of a religious organization and you give your outside earnings to the organization, you still must include the earnings in your income. However, you may be entitled to a charitable contribution deduction for the amount paid to the organization. Get Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. Also, see Members of Religious Orders, later.

Pension. A pension or retirement pay for a member of the clergy is usually treated as any other pension or annuity. It must be reported on lines 16a and 16b of Form 1040, or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A.


Special rules for housing apply to members of the clergy. Under these rules, you do not include in your income the rental value of a home (including utilities) or a housing allowance provided to you as part of your pay. The home or allowance must be provided as compensation for your duties as an ordained, licensed, or commissioned minister. However, you must include the rental value of the home or the housing allowance as earnings from self-employment on Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax, if you are subject to the self-employment tax. For more information, see Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers.

Housing allowance. The amount of a housing allowance you can exclude from your income cannot be more than either:

  • The reasonable compensation for your services as a minister, or
  • Your expenses, in the year the allowance is received, to provide a home or to pay utilities for a home you are provided.

Expenses of providing a home include rent, house payments, furniture payments, costs for a garage, and utilities. They do not include the cost of food or servants.

Designation requirement. The church or organization that employs you must officially designate the payment as a housing allowance before the payment is made. A definite amount must be designated. The amount of the housing allowance cannot be determined at a later date.

If you are employed and paid by a local congregation, a resolution by a national church agency of your denomination does not effectively designate a housing allowance for you. The local congregation must officially designate the part of your salary that is to be a housing allowance. However, a resolution of a national church agency can designate your housing allowance if you are directly employed by the agency. If no part has been officially designated, you must include your total salary in your income.

Homeowner. If you own your home or are buying it, you can exclude your housing allowance from your income if you spend it for the down payment on the home, for mortgage payments, or for interest, taxes, utilities, repairs, etc. However, you cannot exclude more than the fair rental value of the home plus the cost of utilities, even if a larger amount is designated as a housing allowance. The fair rental value of a home includes the fair rental value of the furnishings in it.

You can deduct on Schedule A (Form 1040) the qualified mortgage interest and real estate taxes you pay on your home even if you use nontaxable housing allowance funds to make the payments.

Teachers or administrators. If you are a minister employed as a teacher or administrator by a church school, college, or university, you are performing ministerial services for purposes of the housing exclusion. However, if you perform services as a teacher or administrator on the faculty of a nonchurch college, you cannot exclude from your income a housing allowance or the value of a home that is provided to you.

TaxTip: If you live in faculty lodging as an employee of an educational institution or academic health center, all or part of the value of that lodging may be nontaxable under a different rule. See Faculty lodging in the discussion on meals and lodging under Fringe Benefits, earlier.

If you serve as a minister of music or minister of education, or serve in an administrative or other function of your religious organization, but are not authorized to perform substantially all of the religious duties of an ordained minister in your church (even if you are commissioned as a minister of the gospel), the housing exclusion does not apply to you.

Cantors. If you are a cantor, the housing exclusion applies to you even if you are not ordained, provided you have a bona fide commission and are employed by a congregation on a full-time basis to perform substantially all religious functions.

Theological students. The housing exclusion does not apply if you are a theological student serving a required internship as an assistant pastor unless you are ordained, commissioned, or licensed as a minister.

Traveling evangelists. If you are an ordained minister and are providing evangelistic services, you can exclude amounts received from out-of-town churches that are designated as a housing allowance, provided you actually use them to maintain your permanent home.

Retired members of the clergy. The rental value of a home provided rent free by your church for your past services is not income if you are a retired minister. In addition, the amount of your housing allowance that you spent for utilities, maintenance, repairs, and similar expenses directly related to providing a home is not income to you. These amounts are also not included in net earnings from self-employment.

The general convention of a national religious denomination can designate a housing allowance for retired ministers that can be excluded from income. This applies if the local congregations authorize the general convention to establish and maintain a unified pension system for all retired clergy members of the denomination for their past services to the local churches.

A surviving spouse of a retired minister cannot exclude a housing allowance from income. If these payments were reported to you on Form 1099-R, include them on lines 16a and 16b of Form 1040, or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A. Otherwise, include them on line 21 of Form 1040.

Members of Religious Orders

If you are a member of a religious order who has taken a vow of poverty, how you treat earnings that you renounce and turn over to the order depends on whether your services are performed for the order.

Services performed for the order. If you are performing the services as an agent of the order in the exercise of duties required by the order, do not include in your income the amounts turned over to the order.

If your order directs you to perform services for another agency of the supervising church or an associated institution, you are considered to be performing the services as an agent of the order. Any wages you earn as an agent of an order that you turn over to the order are not included in your income.

Example. You are a member of a church order and have taken a vow of poverty. You renounce any claims to your earnings and turn over to the order any salaries or wages you earn. You are a registered nurse, so your order assigns you to work in a hospital that is an associated institution of the church. However, you remain under the general direction and control of the order. You are considered to be an agent of the order and any wages you earn at the hospital that you turn over to your order are not included in your income.

Services performed outside the order. If you are directed to work outside the order, your services are not an exercise of duties required by the order unless they meet both of the following requirements.

  • They are the kind of services that are ordinarily the duties of members of the order.
  • They are part of the duties that you must exercise for, or on behalf of, the religious order as its agent.

If you are an employee of a third party, the services you perform for the third party will not be considered directed or required of you by the order. Amounts you receive for these services are included in your income, even if you have taken a vow of poverty.

Example 1. Mark Brown is a member of a religious order and has taken a vow of poverty. He renounces all claims to his earnings and turns over his earnings to the order.

Mark is a schoolteacher. He was instructed by the superiors of the order to get a job with a private tax-exempt school. Mark became an employee of the school, and, at his request, the school made the salary payments directly to the order.

Because Mark is an employee of the school, he is performing services for the school rather than as an agent of the order. The wages Mark earns working for the school are included in his income.

Example 2. Gene Dennis is a member of a religious order who, as a condition of membership, has taken vows of poverty and obedience. All claims to his earnings are renounced. Gene received permission from the order to establish a private practice as a psychologist and counsels members of religious orders as well as nonmembers. Although the order reviews Gene's budget annually, Gene controls not only the details of his practice but also the means by which his work as a psychologist is accomplished.

Gene's private practice as a psychologist does not make him an agent of the religious order. The psychological services provided by Gene are not the type of services that are provided by the order. The income Gene earns as a psychologist is earned in his individual capacity. Gene must include in his income the earnings from his private practice.

Foreign Employer

Special rules apply if you work for a foreign employer.

U.S. citizen. If you are a U.S. citizen who works in the United States for a foreign government, an international organization, a foreign embassy, or any foreign employer, you must include your salary in your income.

Social security and Medicare taxes. You are exempt from social security and Medicare employee taxes if you are employed in the United States by an international organization or a foreign government. However, you must pay self-employment tax on your earnings from services performed in the United States, even though you are not self-employed. This rule also applies if you are an employee of a qualifying wholly-owned instrumentality of a foreign government.

Non-U.S. citizen. If you are not a U.S. citizen, or if you are a U.S. citizen but also a citizen of the Philippines, and you work for an international organization in the United States, your salary from that source is exempt from tax. If you work for a foreign government in the United States, your salary from that source is exempt from tax if your work is like the work done by employees of the United States in that foreign country and the foreign government gives an equal exemption to employees of the United States in that country.

Waiver of alien status. If you are an alien who works for a foreign government or international organization and you file a waiver under section 247(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to keep your immigrant status, any salary you receive after the date you file the waiver is not exempt under this rule. However, it may be exempt under a treaty or agreement. See Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for more information about treaties.

Nonwage income. This exemption applies only to employees' wages, salaries, and fees. Pensions and other income do not qualify for this exemption.

Employment abroad. For information on the tax treatment of income earned abroad, get Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.


Payments you receive as a member of a military service generally are taxed as wages except for retirement pay, which is taxed as a pension. Allowances generally are not taxed. For more information on the tax treatment of military allowances and benefits, get Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide.

Military retirement pay. If your retirement pay is based on age or length of service, it is taxable and must be included in your income as a pension on lines 16a and 16b of Form 1040, or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A. Do not include in your income the amount of any reduction in retirement or retainer pay to provide a survivor annuity for your spouse or children under the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan or the Survivor Benefit Plan.

For a more detailed discussion of survivor annuities, get Publication 575.

Disability. If you are retired on disability, see Military and Government Disability Pensions under Sickness and Injury Benefits, later.

Veterans' benefits. Do not include in your income any veterans' benefits paid under any law, regulation, or administrative practice administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The following amounts paid to veterans or their families are not taxable.

  • Education, training, and subsistence allowances.
  • Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid either to veterans or their families.
  • Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living.
  • Grants for motor vehicles for veterans who lost their sight or the use of their limbs.
  • Veterans' insurance proceeds and dividends paid either to veterans or their beneficiaries, including the proceeds of a veteran's endowment policy paid before death.
  • Interest on insurance dividends left on deposit with the VA.

Rehabilitative program payments. VA payments to hospital patients and resident veterans for their services under the VA's therapeutic or rehabilitative programs are not treated as nontaxable veterans' benefits. Report these payments as income on line 21 of Form 1040.


The tax treatment of amounts you receive as a volunteer worker for the Peace Corps or similar agency is covered in the following discussions.

Peace Corps. Living allowances you receive as a Peace Corps volunteer or volunteer leader for housing, utilities, household supplies, food, and clothing are exempt from tax.

Taxable allowances. The following allowances must be included in your income and reported as wages.

  • Allowances paid to your spouse and minor children while you are a volunteer leader training in the United States.
  • Living allowances designated by the Director of the Peace Corps as basic compensation. These are allowances for personal items such as domestic help, laundry and clothing maintenance, entertainment and recreation, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.
  • Leave allowances.
  • Readjustment allowances or termination payments. These are considered received by you when credited to your account.

Example. Gary Carpenter, a Peace Corps volunteer, gets $175 a month as a readjustment allowance during his period of service, to be paid to him in a lump sum at the end of his tour of duty. Although the allowance is not available to him until the end of his service, Gary must include it in his income on a monthly basis as it is credited to his account.

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). If you are a VISTA volunteer, you must include meal and lodging allowances paid to you in your income as wages.

National Senior Service Corps programs. Do not include in your income amounts you receive for supportive services or reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses from the following programs.

  • Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
  • Foster Grandparent Program.
  • Senior Companion Program.

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). If you receive amounts for supportive services or reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses from SCORE, do not include these amounts in gross income.

Volunteer tax counseling. Do not include in your income any reimbursements you receive for transportation, meals, and other expenses you have in training for, or actually providing, volunteer federal income tax counseling for the elderly (TCE).

You can deduct as a charitable contribution your unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in taking part in the volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) program.

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