Publication 517

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Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers


Social security and Medicare taxes are collected under two systems. Under the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA), the self-employed person pays all the taxes. Under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), the employee and the employer each pay half of the taxes. No earnings are subject to both systems.

This publication covers the following topics about the collection of social security and Medicare taxes from members of the clergy and religious workers.

  • Which earnings are taxed under FICA and which under SECA. (See Table 1 to determine whether FICA or SECA applies.)
  • How a member of the clergy (minister, member of a religious order, or Christian Science practitioner) can apply for an exemption from self-employment tax.
  • How to figure net earnings from self-employment.

This publication also covers certain income tax rules of interest to the clergy.

A comprehensive example shows filled-in forms for a minister who has income taxed under SECA, other income taxed under FICA, and income tax reporting of items specific to the clergy. In the back of Publication 517 is a set of worksheets that you can use to figure the amount of your taxable ministerial income and allowable deductions. You will find these worksheets right after the Comprehensive Example.


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