Salary: Monetary compensation paid to the priest
Housing: Church-provided, rent-free housing or a housing allowance to compensate fair value costs of renting or owning a home, including furnishings and utilities.
SECA: Things are different for clergy leaders (but you knew that!) Social Security taxes or contributions are collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). Payment of Social Security taxes can be especially complex for churches and confusing for congregations. Unlike other taxpayers, clergy often have a dual tax status and are considered employees for income tax purposes. However, when it comes to Social Security, their ministerial earnings are considered self-employed. Clergy must pay Social Security at the SECA tax rate. The church does not split the cost of Social Security contributions with clergy as it does for non-clergy employees. Churches can give ministers a Social Security “allowance” or “offset” to help the minister pay SECA taxes. But a Social Security allowance or offset is extra income. The minister will have to report the allowance as income for federal income tax purposes and as income for SECA tax purposes.
Benefits: Benefits may include life and disability insurance as well as retirement savings plan and pension plans.
One of the easiest ways to show convey compensation is to compare it to a non-clergy employee’s compensation. The following graphics provides a point of comparison.
The information above is general financial content. The Church Pension Fund and Episcopal Church Foundation have additional resources that can address specific questions relevant to compensation in the Episcopal Church
Expert Source: Marsha Gebuhr, Canon for Administration and Nancy Fritschner, Church Pension Fund Tax Line Consultant