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Latest Warning, Helps from CMA

Sep 3, 2004

Here are two items from the latest newsletter of the Christian Management Association. The first warns local churches and pastors of the importance of keeping receipts for reimbursable expenses, and the second offers help to churches wishing to know more about safeguards in using volunteers, particularly in overseeing children’s ministries.

IRS Asserts Sanctions Against Minister

Frank Sommerville, JD, CPA, reported to CMA this week that the IRS recently released five memorandums that detailed why it was seeking intermediate sanctions against a pastor, his spouse, his two sons and a son-in-law.

Basically, every expense item that lacked documentation should have been added to their taxable income by the church but it was not added. These expenses became the basis for the intermediate sanctions.

The expense items that were left off the minister’s taxable income included personal use of cell phones, personal use of church cars, personal use of a church-owned house (not a parsonage) and personal use of church credit cards. Since these individuals did not have documentation to show business use, the IRS claimed personal use.

The individuals’ taxes and penalties could exceed 265 percent of the original expense amount. These memos should remind all in leadership that the standard for documenting business expenses is 100 percent and the penalties for sloppy recordkeeping can be severe. (Info: contact Frank Sommerville, JD, CPA, at or visit for more information.)

Volunteer Background Checks & Other Tools

Churches and ministries that use volunteers should check out Group Publishing’s volunteer management services at Options include national background checks (for as little as $17 per person), volunteer management software, recruiting and motivational tools, online training and telephone consulting.