Do nuns file income tax returns?
Tax season is upon us. Time for every American to break out the tissues and aspirin. And yes, that includes sisters of the cloth.
While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states that churches are tax-exempt, it doesn't necessarily follow that employees of churches are excused from filing income taxes. According to Peter Kershaw, priests and nuns in the Catholic Church are considered employees, or sometimes "self-employed ministers," and report their compensation as income.
Checking back with the IRS, Publication 501 (2006) says people must file a return if they had "wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes." This would mean Catholic priests and nuns dread April 15 just like the rest of us.
But it's also true that some monks and nuns in religious communities take vows of poverty. In exchange for giving up their worldly possessions to the religious order, they're provided with shelter, food, and clothing. Since the order doesn't pay them a salary, these people do not file income tax returns. The income tax only applies to folks who, well, have income.
But don't think a vow of poverty saves you from sending money to The Man. The IRS monitors vow of poverty scams, and has prosecuted many fakers.
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