Documentation of expenses is vital to an acceptable accountable reimbursement plan. Mileage driven in the course of business is generally the minister’s greatest expense. Some ministers have contended that every mile they travel is in the furtherance of their business – and thus reimbursable. Their contention is based upon the fact that they never stop being a minister and technically are “on call” at all times. The IRS has not accepted this argument, just as they have declined similar claims by doctors and other professionals. Commuting, going to the grocery store, or the local department store are miles that are not ministerial in nature and thus can not be claimed for reimbursement. In their publications, the IRS clearly agrees that trips to the hospital or nursing home, or to attend conferences or other church meetings are business miles and can be deducted. However, they go on to point out that trips to and from the church are considered nondeductible commuting expenses.
A minister should carefully document his business mileage by the use of a daily (or trip) log. The log should contain the odometer reading at the beginning of the trip and the end of the trip, the date, and the purpose of the trip. Stopping by the grocery store on the way home does not take the trip out of the business expense category, as long as the stop was incidental. The log should be used to calculate your mileage for submission to the church and should be retained long term to document such expenses if ever questioned by the IRS.
The IRS standard mileage rate for the use of a car for business purposes changes yearly. Please contact the Benefits Board at email@example.com get the latest IRS rate.
** Please refer to the Tax Information Manual on our website for more information concerning these topics.