All posts from “Richard Hammar”

10 Tips to Avoid Common Tax Mistakes

March 20, 2014 8:00 AM

The IRS urges taxpayers to review their tax returns for common errors that could delay the processing of their return and refund. Here are ten ways to avoid mistakes: File electronically. If you choose to e-file, many of the...

Should Ministers Prepare Their Own Tax Returns?

March 13, 2014 8:00 AM

Ministers can prepare their own tax returns. While ministers' taxes present several unique rules, these rules are not complex. Unfortunately, many people confuse uniqueness with complexity. With a little effort most ministers should be able to comprehend these rules sufficiently...

Why Pastors Must Pay Federal Income Taxes

March 6, 2014 8:00 AM

Ministers are not exempt from paying federal income taxes. Since 1943 (Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105), the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom is not violated by subjecting ministers to...

10 Common Payroll Tax Errors

January 23, 2014 8:00 AM

In the video below, Richard Hammar reviews what he considers the ten most common payroll tax errors made by churches. Hammar, along with Christianity Today, publishes a comprehensive tax review in his annual book the Church & Clergy Tax Guide,...

Accountable Reimbursements Prove Best Way to Handle Ministry Expenses

December 10, 2013 8:00 AM

The best way for ministers to handle their ministry-related business expenses is to have their employing church adopt an accountable expense reimbursement arrangement. An accountable arrangement is one that meets the following four requirements: (1) only business expenses are reimbursed;...

Five Legal Pitfalls Churches Continually Face

November 14, 2013 8:00 AM

Each year I review 12,000 published and unpublished rulings by state appellate and federal courts pertaining to religious organizations. Based on my case analysis from 2012, churches wound up in court for the following five reasons: Zoning (5.4 percent...

One Key, End-of-Year Task Every Church Should Do

October 24, 2013 8:00 AM

A number of tasks need to be done before the end of the year, but there's one that can easily be done with the handy tool of the church bulletin or newsletter: Include information that will help donors ensure...

Gifts of Money to Pastors

October 17, 2013 8:00 AM

Editor's Note: The month of October is Pastor Appreciation Month. As you consider how to celebrate the many benefits your pastor brings to your church, consider if the gifts you're giving count as taxable income. Some church members give...

Neglecting to "Render Unto Caesar"

October 15, 2013 8:00 AM

Ministers—especially new ones—often fail to file income tax returns. It's a common problem, because churches are not required to withhold either income taxes or Social Security taxes from the wages of ministers who are performing ministerial services. This occurrence...

31 Free Articles on Church Law, Finance, and Risk

October 1, 2013 8:00 AM

Church leaders will have an unprecedented opportunity throughout October when ChurchLawAndTax.com, a sister site of ours, unlocks a new article each day on a significant law, tax, finance, or risk management matter leaders face. The "31 in 31" campaign...

Free Webinar: Guns at Church and Church Security

August 8, 2013 8:00 AM

If a shooting occurs at our church, are we liable? How should we form a church security team? Is it OK for church members with permits to bring their guns to church? These questions may seem odd for church leaders...

"Play or Pay" Health Care Penalty Delayed

July 8, 2013 11:33 AM

The Obama Administration announced on July 2 a one-year delay in the effective date of a major component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requiring employers with at least 50 workers to offer health coverage or be exposed...

White House to Churches: Run, Hide, or Fight an Active Shooter

June 20, 2013 2:25 PM

Our sister site ChristianityToday.com's "Gleanings" gives a quick recap today of the White House's first-ever emergency operating plan for houses of worship. The free plan, created by six government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, covers how...

Addressing Transportation Risks with Youth Groups

June 4, 2013 8:00 AM

This video, the third in a series by Richard Hammar on six legal risks for church youth pastors, describes the threats of distracted driving, the use of inexperienced drivers, and the legal liabilities churches may assume by not fully knowing...

Transgender Activities in Churches

March 7, 2013 8:00 AM

A news story involving a Colorado family's battle with a school district has garnered national attention after a school in the district said the family's six-year-old boy, who believes he is a girl, can use a clinic bathroom or a...

What Churches Should Know in 2013 about the Health Care Act

March 5, 2013 8:00 AM

In March 2010, Congress enacted the 2,500-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “Act” or “Affordable Care Act”) in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. Since being...

When You Need Outside Help for Taxes

February 25, 2013 8:00 AM

A brief Q&A recently featured in The Wall Street Journal offers tips for what to look for in a tax preparer. Many people hire someone to help them file their returns these days, the author notes, mostly because of the...

Risqué Texts are a Legal Risk for Youth Ministers

February 7, 2013 8:00 AM

This video, the first in a series by Richard Hammar on six legal risks for church youth pastors, describes a new concern for churches: Recent cases of youth ministers "sexting" with youth group members. View this entire video series on...

2012: "A Bad Year for Violence" at Churches

February 5, 2013 12:10 PM

Last month, church security expert Carl Chinn updated his statistics on violent incidents at churches and faith-based organizations. He began tracking this information in 1999 by learning of incidents reported by news agencies, which he then independently researches and...

Q&A: Is Form 990 Required for Churches?

January 22, 2013 10:45 AM

Q: Does a small church need to file a 990N? I have not been able to determine if this is now required. In the past, we have not filed 990's as we are a small congregation. A: Section 6033 exempts...

12 Benefits of the New Taxpayer Relief Act

January 17, 2013 8:00 AM

Congress enacted legislation, known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act, in the final hours of 2012 that increased taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and extended several expired tax benefits so they will be available in preparing your 2012 tax return....

Establishing an Arbitration Policy for Church Staff Disputes

January 15, 2013 8:00 AM

This article is taken from Richard Hammar’s Essential Guide to Employment Issues for Church Boards eBook. For this eBook and other cutting-edge eBooks for church staffs, boards, and clergy, view our online catalog. Disputes occasionally arise between church employees,...

Will Churches Pay More in 2013?

January 10, 2013 8:00 AM

A few months ago, our friend Warren Bird at Leadership Network informally surveyed nearly 600 Protestant churches to find out their plans for hiring and pay raises in 2013. The survey results appeared encouraging: 74 percent expected to give raises...

The Top 10 Church Management Articles of 2012

December 27, 2012 8:00 AM

The church office is a busy place, as shown in this year’s ten most popular articles on ManagingYourChurch.com. These ten alone demonstrate that many church leaders are working hard to count contributions, show employees their appreciation, conduct board meetings,...

Commission Releases First Report on Church Accountability

December 4, 2012 2:54 PM

An independent commission formed by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability at the request of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in January 2011 issued its first public findings today through a 91-page report that is available for free download. The report...

Q&A: Is a Love Offering Tax Deductible for the Donor?

December 4, 2012 8:00 AM

Q: I realize love offerings need to be included in a pastor’s taxable income, however, should an individual receive tax-deductible credit for their gift if the church board authorized the collection? Also, what if an individual gives a love gift...

Do Members Have a Right to Inspect Church Records?

November 27, 2012 8:00 AM

This article is taken from Richard Hammar’s Essential Guide to Liabilities and Duties for Church Boards eBook. For this eBook and other cutting-edge eBooks for church administrators, boards, and clergy, view our online catalog. Church members have no inherent...

A Minister’s Most Important Tax Break

November 20, 2012 8:00 AM

This article is adapted from Richard Hammar’s Essential Guide to Money for Church Boards eBook. For this eBook and other cutting-edge eBooks for church administrators, board members, and clergy, view our online catalog. The most important tax benefit available...

Q&A: Are "Love Offerings" for Church Staff Taxable?

November 8, 2012 8:00 AM

Q: I recently read an article about when churches give Christmas gifts and have a question. If a church takes up a love offering at Christmas for its pastor and staff, is that reportable as income? This would not come...

A Key Tax Reminder for Donors

November 1, 2012 8:00 AM

As the calendar flips to November, it's a good reminder of the many tax details that churches must track, especially on behalf of those who faithfully give to the church throughout the year. Churches must properly document donor contributions, which...

The No-Stress Audit

October 30, 2012 8:00 AM

Most church staffs dread an audit. Disturbing questions surround the experience: Does the IRS distrust us? Will we have to pay more out of our already slim budget? Thankfully, much of this worry is unwarranted. Most church tax returns are...

When a Sex Offender Wants to Attend Church

October 18, 2012 8:00 AM

How would your congregation react if they knew a convicted sex offender was worshipping among them each Sunday morning? This controversial question is something congregations across the country are currently asking themselves. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Experts recommend...

Can’t Pay Your Taxes?

October 16, 2012 8:00 AM

Many pastors have been audited by the IRS and assessed several thousands of dollars of taxes and penalties but have no prospect for paying their bill. What can be done if you find yourself in this situation? There are...

Your Turn: Will Your Church Get Political?

October 11, 2012 8:00 AM

With Election Day less than a month away, discussion about the role of churches in the political realm remains robust across the country. Last week's "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," conducted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, drew nearly 1,500 participating churches, the...

Preventing Payroll Mistakes

October 2, 2012 8:00 AM

When Christianity Today and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company sponsored a webinar featuring Richard Hammar on Prevent Payroll Mistakes: What Churches Need to Know, a record number of church leaders registered for the event. That's likely because payroll taxes present...

Can We Send Banned Cribs Out of the Country?

September 27, 2012 8:00 AM

Q: I am a children’s pastor. We have replaced all of our cribs, in light of the new regulations banning certain ones from being used, sold, or donated in this country. We have a missionary we support in South...

Building a Culture of Risk Management

September 25, 2012 8:00 AM

Now more than ever before, church leaders must recognize the importance of risk management as an inherent part of organizational oversight and leadership. But what does proper risk management look like, and whose responsibility is it? Many boards assume that...

Hammar Achieves Professional Parliamentarian Status

September 13, 2012 8:00 AM

In 2009, Richard Hammar—senior editor of Church Law & Tax Report and Church Finance Today—became one of 270 “registered parliamentarians” in the United States by passing a qualifying examination administered by the National Association of Parliamentarians. Recently, he passed...

Free Church Payroll Webinar Rescheduled

September 11, 2012 3:24 PM

Due to illness, Richard Hammar’s “Prevent Payroll Mistakes—What Churches Need to Know” webinar, which was originally scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday, September 12, 2012), has been rescheduled. In an effort to best serve you, we have rescheduled this free webinar to...

3 Key Changes for Churches in Latest Robert’s Rules

September 10, 2012 8:00 AM

Editor’s Note:Richard Hammar, a Professional Registered Parliamentarian, recently reviewed the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised for Church Law & Tax Report. Below, he summarizes three key changes from the latest edition. Does your church use Robert’s...

Can We Amend the Pastor's Housing Allowance?

August 30, 2012 8:00 AM

Q: Our church designates, in writing, a housing allowance for our pastor on an annual basis (usually late November for the upcoming fiscal year—for example in November 2011 we submitted our proposed budget for 2012). We now have a member...

The Politics of Religion

August 27, 2012 8:00 AM

We've recently looked at the political activity of churches. In the upcoming September/October 2012 edition of Church Law & Tax Report, Rich Hammar revisits what the Internal Revenue Service says is--and isn't--allowed by churches when it comes to political candidates...

Drafting a Conditional Agreement for a Sex Offender

August 23, 2012 8:00 AM

When church leaders learn a sex offender is in their midst, their response typically is one of the following three: Do nothing. They just don’t know what to do. Total exclusion. They choose a blanket policy prohibiting a registered offender...

Properly Documenting Donors' Contributions

August 16, 2012 8:00 AM

In the August 2012 edition of Church Finance Today, Richard Hammar examines a recent, high-profile case involving a couple whose substantial contributions to a church were denied tax deductibility by the Internal Revenue Service: A married couple (the “taxpayers”) timely...

Removing a Church Board Member

August 13, 2012 8:00 AM

Imagine a member of your church’s board has engaged in behavior that violates the church’s understanding of Scripture. In doing so, they’ve probably also violated the qualifications for serving on the board. In cases like this, the congregation or...

Q&A: Should Churches Perform a Compensation Study?

July 26, 2012 8:00 AM

Q: At the end of every year, our board discusses the salary for our ministers for the upcoming year. We would like to compensate our ministers for all they do for our church, and some have suggested we get a...

Report: Penn State Sex Abuse Allegations Arose in 1998

July 12, 2012 3:13 PM

Joe Paterno and other key Penn State officials knew about sex abuse allegations as early as 1998, but actively hushed concerns in fear of repercussions, according to a special investigative team’s report released today. The sweeping independent report notes that...

Setting Boundaries for Sex Offenders to Attend Church

July 12, 2012 8:00 AM

Set Free Christian Fellowship in Medford, Oregon, recently received a letter from its insurance provider that outlines requirements for allowing known sex offenders to attend the church. Stipulations include fully disclosing the identity of sex offenders to the 100-member congregation,...

Should Churches Be Involved in Politics?

July 2, 2012 8:00 AM

On Father’s Day, numerous churches in Maine used their offering time to take up collections for a political action committee (PAC) campaigning against a same-sex marriage referendum on that state’s ballot. An article on ChristianityToday.com points out such an...

Health Care Ruling Preserves Credit for Churches

June 28, 2012 10:34 AM

This morning's Supreme Court decision to largely uphold President Obama's health care reform legislation appears to preserve a health insurance credit for small employers, including churches, to help cover the costs of providing coverage to employees. This means churches that...

Free Webinar: Child Abuse Reporting in the Aftermath of Penn State

April 17, 2012 8:00 AM

Allegations of child molestation at Penn State University stunned the nation last fall. Even as the investigation continues, church leaders can learn from the tough lessons of this case, including recognizing abuse, the duties to report suspected cases of abuse,...

Is a Confession to a Pastor Always Confidential?

April 5, 2012 8:00 AM

A child sexual assault case in Michigan has garnered national interest in recent weeks because the evidence used to bring criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator included testimony from his pastor. A county judge deemed the inclusion of the...

Churchgoers Restrain Gunman During Sunday Service

March 26, 2012 11:22 AM

A man armed with a shotgun entered worship services Sunday at a church in South Carolina. Quick—and courageous—action by attenders helped prevent a shooting. The Huffington Post reports churchgoers watched through the church's windows as the 38-year-old assailant approached the...

Proper Payroll Withholdings Critical for Churches

March 1, 2012 8:00 AM

The recent payroll tax holiday extension keeps a 2-percent reduction for employee and clergy Social Security withholdings in place throughout 2012. We've already covered what those rates should be on paychecks. But the reason why it is so important for...

Weighing Outreach to Sex Offenders

February 22, 2012 3:11 PM

Churches and ministries that interact with sex offenders face numerous challenges, as our national research in 2010 revealed. A recent case in Florida involving Matthew 25 Ministries, an organization devoted to working with sex offenders, underscores the complex nature of...

17 Ways the Church May Become Accountable to the State

February 21, 2012 8:14 AM

Should the IRS form an advisory committee to oversee church tax law? Is the clergy housing exclusion constitutional? To what extent should churches be accountable to the government for the way in which they operate? These are three of the...

Commission on Financial Practices Seeks Input from Churches

February 16, 2012 8:00 AM

A little more than a year ago, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to oversee an independent commission tasked with evaluating several financial and tax matters related to churches and nonprofit ministries. The goal: Determine...

Part 2: When Raises Aren’t Possible for Church Staff

January 19, 2012 8:00 AM

Editor’s Note: In Part 1, Bloomberg Businessweek columnist Liz Ryan shared with ManagingYourChurch.com’s Matt Branaugh the first of several ways that churches can reward and recognize employees when raises aren’t possible (as the 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff...

Year End Giving

December 29, 2011 8:00 AM

December often brings more contributions to churches than any other month. Be prepared to handle year end contributions accurately by listening to Richard Hammar describe a number of important rules that apply to year end giving in the video below:...

December Tax Tip: Note New Withholdings for 2012

December 22, 2011 8:00 AM

Beginning on January 1, churches having nonminister employees (or a minister who has elected voluntary withholding) should begin withholding federal income taxes according to the new tables and instructions contained in the 2012 edition of IRS Publication 15 (Circular E)....

December Tax Tip: Plan Now to Reclassify an Employee

December 15, 2011 8:00 AM

If you have a minister or lay worker who is treated as self-employed for federal income tax reporting purposes, but who you would like to reclassify as an employee, the ideal time to make the change is on January 1...

December Tax Tip: 2012 Pension Plan Limits

December 8, 2011 8:00 AM

The IRS has announced cost-of-living adjustments applicable to dollar limitations for pension plans and other items for 2012. These include the following: The limitation for defined contribution plans is $50,000. The exclusion for elective deferrals is $17,000. The limitation used...

December Tax Tip: Update Staff W-4s Now

December 1, 2011 8:00 AM

December is a good time to check with all nonminister church employees to see if they need to file a new W-4 form with the church. The W-4 form is used by employees to report withholding allowances. This information will...

Rewriting Paterno's Playbook

November 11, 2011 2:05 PM

On November 6, 2011, Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State defensive coordinator, was charged with molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009. Although he retired from Penn State’s football staff in 1999, he continued to use the school’s facilities...

Preventing Identity Theft at Church

November 7, 2011 8:00 AM

A church that meets in the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women says its former administrative assistant, who is also a former inmate, used volunteers’ personal information to steal 40 identities to open credit cards, according to the Des Moines...

The Church Bulletin as a Tax Tool

November 1, 2011 8:00 AM

To avoid jeopardizing the tax deductibility of charitable contributions, churches should advise donors at the end of 2011 not to file their 2011 income tax returns until they have received a written acknowledgement of their contributions from the church....

Can Banks Ask Churches for Donor Records?

October 20, 2011 8:00 AM

A national bank recently subpoenaed an Iowa church’s financial records, seeking information about donations made by a man whose business defaulted on a $650,000 loan. The financial institution wants to know about cash and property given to the church...

Renting Out Extra Space May Cost Churches

October 13, 2011 8:00 AM

A church in Boise, Idaho, received an unexpected property tax bill of $17,000 for leasing space to a local YMCA daycare, according to Northwest Cable News. The church charges the nonprofit about $9,500 a month to rent space often left...

New Crib Regulations Affect Churches

October 6, 2011 8:00 AM

New federal regulations for cribs could lead to substantial penalties and civil lawsuits that may implicate not only your church, but also your church board. It's important your church understands these new regulations and follows them closely to avoid creating...

Religious Employment Under High Court's Focus This Week

October 4, 2011 11:38 AM

Editor's Note: The Christianity Today Liveblog, a sister site to ManagingYourChurch.com, covered Monday's important religious employment case development at the U.S. Supreme Court, and briefly previewed Wednesday's Supreme Court review of the ministerial exception. Both will be of significant interest...

Endorsing Candidates from the Pulpit

October 4, 2011 8:00 AM

This past Sunday, the Alliance Defense Fund expected nearly 500 church pastors nationwide to participate in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday." The event, organized for four consecutive years by ADF, is designed to challenge a 1954 amendment to the 501( c)...

Nine Tips for Keeping Church Football Games Safe

September 27, 2011 8:00 AM

Football season is underway, and many churches are hosting flag football and touch football events for their youth ministries. In full-contact football, players wear extensive padding and safety equipment. Virtually no protective gear is used for flag or touch...

Who Owns a Pastor's Sermons?

September 19, 2011 8:00 AM

Most clergy would be shocked to learn that their sermons are works made for hire that are owned by their employing church, and that their sermons cannot be used in any other churches with which they are later employed without...

'Most Significant Religious Case in 20 Years'

July 13, 2011 8:00 AM

A news article from the July edition of Christianity Today covers the U.S. Supreme Court's April decision to accept a teacher's appeal regarding an unfair firing claim against a Michigan elementary school run by a church. At stake: How...

Setting the Record Straight on Group Exemptions

June 30, 2011 8:00 AM

The IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (“ACT”) issued a report in June that addresses a number of tax compliance issues, including group exemption rulings. The report caught the attention of many church leaders, since thousands...

Group Drops Case Against Pastor Housing Allowances

June 22, 2011 10:21 AM

A constitutional challenge to the tax-free housing allowances and parsonages provided to thousands of American pastors is over after the plaintiffs who filed the original lawsuit voluntarily requested its dismissal Friday in a California district court. But the battle...

More Analysis on the Pastor Housing Allowance Challenge

June 14, 2011 8:00 AM

Last month, Richard Hammar wrote an article detailing new developments in the constitutional challenge to pastoral housing allowances under way in California. In a separate case in Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled the plaintiffs there lacked standing for their...

Supreme Court Tackles 'Ministerial Exception'

April 21, 2011 8:00 AM

Courts have generally recognized a rule known as the "ministerial exception" when it comes to employment lawsuits in churches. Because of the First Amendment, many judges have considered it inappropriate to rule in these disputes, especially when their rulings may...

A Tax Credit for Churches?

April 18, 2011 8:56 AM

Editor's Note (September 29, 2011): A church business administrator in Colorado shared the following update regarding his church's application for this credit: "We submitted form 990-T claiming the credit (approximately $7,100) in late April. We received a request for more...

Should Congress Change Pastors' Housing Allowances?

April 12, 2011 8:00 AM

The newest issue of Christianity Today poses an interesting question: Should Congress change pastors' housing allowances? Expect to hear a lot more on the topic in the weeks and months ahead. Since the conclusion of Sen. Charles Grassley's (R-Iowa)...

Screening and Selecting Children's Workers at Church

April 7, 2011 8:00 AM

Editor's Note: April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. For churches, one of the first measures that can make a difference for their children and youth is the proper screening and selection of the paid staff and volunteers who...

Concealed Weapons in Church

March 1, 2011 8:00 AM

In 2010, the state of Georgia enacted a law prohibiting a person with a concealed weapons permit to carry a concealed weapon into a place of worship. A lawsuit was filed challenging the constitutionality of the law. Hear what the...

Help for Pastors During Tax Season

February 17, 2011 8:00 AM

The "The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010," passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in mid-December, triggered a domino-like effect of changes for tax-filers--so much so that even the Internal Revenue Service...

Top 5 Reasons Churches End Up in Court

January 25, 2011 8:00 AM

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National Commission to Examine Church Financial Practices

January 7, 2011 10:46 AM

Editor's Update (12/8/11): The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations is now taking public comments on the various issues it is studying. _________________________________ Editor's Update (4/27/2011): The ECFA has announced the initial members of its commission. The...

Deadline Nears for Pastors' Housing Designations

December 15, 2010 9:40 AM

Churches must designate a portion of each minister's compensation as a housing allowance by December 31 in order for ministers who own or rent their homes to receive the full benefit of a housing allowance exclusion for calendar year 2011....

Is Your Church Ready for Tax Season?

December 9, 2010 8:00 AM

In an upcoming issue of the Church Finance Today newsletter, senior editor Richard Hammar relays a comment made by Douglas Shulman, U.S. Commissioner for Internal Revenue, during a speech given earlier this fall to the American Institute of CPAs:...

Food Safety for Church Holiday Meals

November 25, 2010 8:00 AM

If your church is planning a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, don't let bad food spoil a good time—learn how to safely prepare and store foods by reading the article "Simple Tips for Food Safety at Church Potlucks" and the...

How One Church Responded to a Sex Offender

October 28, 2010 8:00 AM

Last month, we highlighted Sex Offenders in the Pews, Marian Liautaud's article in Christianity Today that is based largely on research we conducted earlier this year. This week, Leadership Journal, another one of our sister publications, published "Sex Offenders: Coming...

Endorsing Political Candidates from the Pulpit

October 26, 2010 8:00 AM

A majority of pastors believe churches should not publicly endorse political candidates, a new LifeWay Research survey shows. Phone interviews conducted randomly in early October with 1,000 church pastors, ministers, and priests revealed 70 percent strongly disagreed and 14...

Case Threatens Pastor Housing Allowances

September 28, 2010 8:00 AM

Earlier this month, we covered eight federal issues that local churches should watch closely during the remainder of 2010 and into 2011, according to recent remarks from Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Busby, one...

Sex Offenders in the Pew

September 21, 2010 8:00 AM

In April 2010, Christianity Today International (CTI) conducted a national survey of 2,864 people, including ordained church leaders (15 percent), church staff (20 percent), lay members (43 percent), and other active Christians (22 percent). Respondents were drawn from the...

Why Church Leaders Should Take the Risk of Embezzlement Seriously

September 7, 2010 8:00 AM

As hard as it may be to believe, churches are not immune from embezzlement. In fact, the widespread belief among church leaders that such a crime "could never happen in a church" makes churches an easy target. Economic downturns...

Impact of Health Care Reform Issues for Nonprofits

July 13, 2010 8:00 AM

Editor's Note: Richard Hammar reviews the 2,500-page health care reform legislation that President Obama signed into law in March 2010 in the feature article of the July/August issue of Church Law & Tax Report. Rich's health care reform analysis...

Set an Example with Copyright Law

June 29, 2010 8:00 AM

Editor's Note: This article provides a helpful overview. For a complete understanding of copyright law for churches, check out the fully updated and redesigned Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches by Richard Hammar, which is now available to...

Top 10 Things Churches Need to Know About Zoning

June 3, 2010 8:20 AM

Editor's note: Church law expert Richard Hammar says zoning is one of the Top 5 issues to land a church in court. To learn more about church property and zoning laws, check out Richard's Volume 2 of "Pastor, Church, &...

Protecting Churches from Embezzlement

May 24, 2010 8:30 AM

Back in December, we ranked the Top 7 Resources to Combat Church Embezzlement. Six months later, I’m reminded of why, and with another unfortunate headline emerging last week, it’s an opportunity for me to highlight a special online event...

Accidents Caused by Teenage Drivers

May 6, 2010 9:00 AM

Follow Richard on YouTube.com: http://www.youtube.com/richardrhammar For more information on keeping the youth in your church safe, visit the "Youth" section of ChurchSafety.com. You'll find topics on High Risk Student Activities, Safe Mentoring Relationships, and more....

Create a Child Abuse Response Plan

April 14, 2010 8:00 AM

(Editor’s Note: April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. We're digging deeper into the issue of "Reporting Child Abuse" with Richard Hammar during a special one-hour live webinar on April 14. Don’t miss out on this important learning opportunity for...

Dealing with Sex Offenders Who Attend Church

April 13, 2010 8:30 AM

(Editor’s note: Since this post first published, Christianity Today International completed "Sex Offenders in the Church," a comprehensive research project exploring the attitudes and beliefs among church leaders regarding integrating sex offenders into the faith community.) Question posted through "Ask...

Loss of a Church's Financial Records

April 6, 2010 9:00 AM

Follow Richard on YouTube.com: http://www.youtube.com/richardrhammar Learn more about Protecting Electronic Data at ChurchSafety.com. Manage your church's finances year-round with The Essential Guide to Church Finance....

What Will the New Health Care Bill Mean for Churches?

March 25, 2010 9:00 AM

(Editor's Note: Since this post publishes, we've since released "Health Care Reform: How the new laws will affect your church.") Now that President Obama has signed the health care reform bill into law, many churches are wondering what the impact...

Is Preaching Against Homosexuality a Hate Crime?

March 16, 2010 9:00 AM

Follow Richard on YouTube.com: http://www.youtube.com/richardrhammar Richard offered thorough coverage of this topic in the March/April issue of Church Law & Tax Report. Subscribe to the bimonthly newsletter to get thorough law and tax coverage throughout the year....

10 Tips for Last-minute Tax Filers

March 2, 2010 8:00 AM

Here are the Internal Revenue Service's top 10 tips that will help your tax filing process “run smoother than ever this year.” 1. Start gathering your records. Round up any documents or forms you'll need when filing your taxes:...

New Law Permits 2009 Charitable Deduction for Haiti Relief Contributions

February 24, 2010 8:00 AM

In an effort to encourage further charitable giving to help those affected by the earthquake in Haiti, Congress passed a bill on January 21 that permits donors to deduct (on their 2009 income tax returns) charitable contributions of cash...

2010 Tax Tips for Church Leaders

February 23, 2010 8:30 AM

Ministry Direct, a channel of AGTV, recently hosted a live, 50-minute video with Richard Hammar on the latest tax information that churches and ministers should know. See it below. Video provided by AGTV. Used with permission. To learn more about...

Oregon Case Provides a Powerful Reminder to Churches

February 17, 2010 8:00 AM

Editor's Note: On March 5, 2010, this post was corrected to show the trial court originally ruled in favor of the pastor, and this ruling was recently affirmed on appeal. The correct version appears in full below: Last week,...

Discerning Eyes for Church Law, Finance, and Administration

January 25, 2010 8:45 AM

Christianity Today International's church management division, which publishes Your Church magazine, the Church Law & Tax Report and Church Finance Today newsletters, plus resources, such as the annual Church & Clergy Tax Guide and ChurchSafety.com, recently formed two important boards...

The Top 7 Resources to Combat Church Embezzlement

December 16, 2009 8:54 AM

Earlier this month, we looked at two recent cases of church embezzlement, and the "zero tolerance" stance judges are starting to take against these crimes. Unfortunately, yet another big headline has since emerged—this time, the leaders of a 150-member Greek...

Sex Offenders in the Church

December 10, 2009 10:00 AM

Because our team produces Reducing the Risk, a comprehensive training program that churches use with staff and volunteers to minimize the risks of child abuse in their ministries, we pay a great deal of attention to the issue of sex...

IRS Announces Standard Business Mileage Rate for 2010

December 3, 2009 4:36 PM

The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2010 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2010, the standard mileage rates for...

Zero Tolerance for Church Embezzlement

December 3, 2009 10:00 AM

A sad story emerged last week out of Indiana, where a 37-year-old woman accused of stealing more than $350,000 from a church while working there as an employee received the maximum sentence allowed by the state. According to an...

Top 5 Reasons Churches Wind Up in Court

November 4, 2009 9:40 AM

For many years, I've closely reviewed litigation involving churches to identify patterns that pastors and leaders can use to assess their own risks and potential vulnerabilities. In 2008, the following five types of cases brought churches to court more...

Church Shootings in the Spotlight

October 5, 2009 3:10 PM

Last week’s Washington Post article, “Sense of Sanctuary Lost as Church Attacks Spike,” underscores the unfortunate attention that church shootings now draw from national media and those outside of ministry. The Post’s piece recounts several recent, high-profile shooting incidents, including...

How to Handle Disruptive People

September 9, 2009 1:00 PM

Does a church have a legal right to keep people from accessing its property or attending services? For example, let's say that a church has an encounter with a disruptive person, and asks him not to return. What if...

Richard R. Hammar

August 26, 2009 8:05 AM

Richard Hammar is senior editor for Church Law & Tax Report, and Church Finance Today. He serves as legal counsel to the Assembly of God denomination. He is an attorney and CPA, specializing in legal and tax issues for...