Churches and qualified church-controlled organizations can elect exemption from employer FICA taxes by filing Form 8274, Certification by Churches and Qualified Church-Controlled Organizations Electing Exemption from Employer Social Security and Medicare Taxes. To elect exemption, Form 8274 must be filed before the first date on which a quarterly employment tax return would otherwise be due from the electing organization. The organization may make the election only if it is opposed for religious reasons to the payment of FICA taxes.
The election can be revoked by the IRS if the organization fails to file Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, for two years and fails to furnish certain information upon request by the IRS. Such revocation will apply retroactively to the beginning of the 2-year period.
For additional information about the special employment tax rules that apply to churches and their employees, see Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers, and Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.
For purposes of this election, the term church means a church, a convention or association of churches, or an elementary or secondary school that is controlled, operated, or principally supported by a church or by a convention or association of churches.
The term qualified church-controlled organization means any church-controlled section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, other than an organization that both:
1) Offers goods, services, or facilities for sale, other than on an incidental basis, to the general public at other than a nominal charge that is substantially less than the cost of providing such goods, services, or facilities, and
2) Normally receives more than 25 percent of its support from the sum of governmental sources and receipts from admissions, sales of merchandise, performance of services, or furnishing of facilities, in activities that are not unrelated trades or businesses.
Effect on Employees
If a church or qualified church-controlled organization has made an election, payment for services performed for that church or organization, other than in an unrelated trade or business, will not be subject to FICA taxes. However, the employee, unless otherwise exempt, will be subject to self-employment tax on the income. The tax applies to income of $108.28 or more for the tax year from that church or organization, and no deductions for trade or business expenses are allowed against this "self-employment" income.
Schedule SE (Form 1040), Self-Employment Tax, should be attached to the employee's income tax return.