- List nine (9) laws, or as many as possible if less than nine, concerning clergy that you have found by searching your nearest municipality laws. By municipality, we mean on the village or town level. If there are none, then tell us how you found that out.
I searched the city code online and found no hits for the following terms: Clergy, Reverend, Priest, Minister, and Rabbi. There were hits for the term Church, but they were all dealing with physical property and not with the people or leaders of the church. The one zoning law that was applicable was the number of off street parking spaces per square feet of church space:
Chapter 375: ZONING; § 375-185. Off-street parking requirements.
Churches and houses of worship: 1 per 100 square feet of floor area
The search term of marriage brought up only license fees, and the term funeral only brought up zoning and traffic laws. (Code of the City of Albany, New York (Albany County))
- If there is a body of laws between the municipality laws and the state/provincial laws where you live, list nine (9) laws, or as many as possible if less than nine, concerning clergy, that you have found by searching this area.
I e-mailed the county clerk as the codes are not online. His response stated there are no county regulations. The following it the entirety of his e-mail:
Dear Mr. Lewis:
I checked with the Albany County Legislature, and they advise me that they are unaware of any Albany County laws that specifically regulate clergy.
You may wish to consult appropriate sections of State law (e.g. Article
3 of the Domestic Relations law.)
Thank you for your interest in the records of Albany County.
Tom Clingan, Albany County Clerk
3) List nine (9) laws concerning clergy that you have found by searching your state/provincial laws.
Education Law, Title 8, Article 153 (psychology)
§ 7605. Exempt persons. Nothing in this article shall be construed to affect or prevent:
1. The activities, services, and use of the title of psychologist, or any derivation thereof, on the part of a person in the employ of a federal, state, county or municipal agency, or other political subdivision, or a chartered elementary or secondary school or degree-granting educational institution insofar as such activities and services are a part of the duties of his salaried position.
2. The activities and services required of a student, intern, or resident in psychology, pursuing a course of study leading to a doctoral degree in psychology in an institution approved by the department, provided that such activities and services constitute a part of his supervised course of study in psychology. Such persons shall be designated by title as "psychological intern", "psychological trainee" or other such title which clearly indicates his training status.
3. The practice, conduct, activities or services by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice medicine within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one of this title or by any person registered to perform services as a physician assistant within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one-B of this title.
4. The practice, conduct, activities, or services by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice nursing as a registered professional nurse or nurse practitioner within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-nine of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice social work within the state pursuant to article one hundred fifty-four of this title, or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, creative arts therapy, or psychoanalysis within the state pursuant to article one hundred sixty-three of this title, or any individual who is credentialed under any law, including attorneys, rape crisis counselors, certified alcoholism counselors, and certified substance abuse counselors from providing mental health services within their respective established authorities.
5. The conduct, activities, or services of any member of the clergy or Christian Science practitioner, in the provision of pastoral counseling services within the context of his or her ministerial charge or obligation.
6. The conduct, activities, or services of individuals, churches, schools, teachers, organizations, or not-for-profit businesses in providing instruction, advice, support, encouragement, or information to individuals, families, and relational groups.
7. The practice, conduct, activities, or services of an occupational therapist from performing work consistent with article one hundred fifty-six of this title.
8. The representation as a psychologist and the rendering of services as such in this state for a temporary period of a person who resides outside the state of New York and who engages in practice as a psychologist and conducts the major part of his practice as such outside this state, provided such person has filed with the department evidence that he has been licensed or certified in another state or has been admitted to the examination in this state pursuant to section seventy-six hundred three of this article. Such temporary period shall not exceed ten consecutive business days in any period of ninety consecutive days or in the aggregate exceed more than fifteen business days in any such ninety-day period.
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Education Law, Title 8, Article 153 (psychology)
§ 7706. Exempt persons. Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to:
1. Apply to the practice, conduct, activities, services or use of any title by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice medicine within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one of this title or by any person registered to perform services as a physician assistant within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one-B of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice psychology within this state pursuant to article one hundred fifty-three of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice nursing as a registered professional nurse or nurse practitioner within this state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-nine of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice occupational therapy within this state pursuant to article one hundred fifty-six of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, creative arts therapy, or psychoanalysis within the state pursuant to article one hundred sixty-three of this title; provided, however, that no physician, physician assistant, registered professional nurse, nurse practitioner, psychologist, occupational therapist, licensed mental health counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed creative arts therapist, or licensed psychoanalyst may use the titles "licensed clinical social worker" or "licensed master social worker", unless licensed under this article.
2. Prevent or prohibit an individual possessing a baccalaureate of social work degree or its equivalent from the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work as defined in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article under supervision by a licensed master social worker, a licensed clinical social worker or in accordance with the commissioner's regulations.
3. Prevent or prohibit a licensed master social worker from the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed clinical social work as defined in subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article in a facility setting and under supervision in accordance with the commissioner's regulations.
4. Prevent or prohibit the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work as defined in subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article by individuals, churches, schools, teachers, organizations, or not-for-profit businesses which are providing instruction, advice, support, encouragement or information to individuals, families and relational groups.
5. Prevent or prohibit the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work or licensed clinical social work as defined in section seventy-seven hundred one of this article by the following:
(a) any individual who is credentialed under any law, including attorneys, rape crisis counselors, credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors whose scope of practice includes the practices defined in section seventy-seven hundred one of this article from performing or claiming to perform work authorized by applicable provisions of this chapter and the mental hygiene law;
(b) provision of pastoral counseling services by any member of the clergy or christian science practitioner, from providing pastoral counselling services within the context of his or her ministerial charge or obligation;
(c) students who are enrolled in a baccalaureate of social work or professional graduate level social work program of study, and which are required to perform as part of the field work component of that program, services provided under the supervision of a field work supervisor approved by the program;
(d) on the part of a student or trainee who is enrolled in an institution or program registered by the department or accredited by an accrediting organization acceptable to the department to provide training in a discipline or profession, other than social work or clinical social work, that is licensed pursuant to this title, where such activities and services are authorized within the definition of the scope of practice of the profession, or discipline in which he or she is being trained as set forth in the education law or the commissioner's regulations, provided that such services are performed under the regular and ongoing supervision of a licensee in the profession or discipline in which he or she is being trained who assumes professional responsibility for the services performed under his or her supervision and that such activities and the provision of such services are a formal part of the professional training program in which he or she is enrolled;
(e) any federal, state, county or municipal employee performing clinical social work services upon the effective date of this section for the period during which they maintain such employment with such governmental unit within the context of such employment and shall be limited to the services provided upon such effective date; and
(f) any employee performing clinical social work services on the effective date of this section for the period during which they maintain such employment with such entity within the context of such employment, and shall be limited to the services provided prior to such effective date.
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Education Law, Title 8, Article 163 (MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONERS)
§ 8410. Exemptions. Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to:
1. Apply to the practice, conduct, activities, services or use of any title by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice medicine within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one of this title or by any person registered to perform services as a physician assistant within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one-B of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice psychology within this state pursuant to article one hundred fifty-three of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice social work within this state pursuant to article one hundred fifty-four of this title, or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice nursing as a registered professional nurse or nurse practitioner within this state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-nine of this title; provided, however, that no physician, physician's assistant, registered professional nurse, nurse practitioner, psychologist, licensed master social worker, or licensed clinical social worker may use the titles "licensed mental health counselor", "licensed marriage and family therapist", "licensed creative arts therapist", or "licensed psychoanalyst", unless licensed under this article.
2. Prohibit or limit any individual who is credentialed under any law, including attorneys, rape crisis counselors, certified alcoholism counselors and certified substance abuse counselors from providing mental health services within their respective established authorities.
3. Prohibit or limit the practice of a profession licensed pursuant to this article by a student, intern or resident in, and as part of, a supervised educational program in an institution approved by the department.
4. Prohibit or limit the provision of pastoral counseling services by any member of the clergy or Christian Science practitioner, within the context of his or her ministerial charge or obligation.
5. Prohibit or limit individuals, churches, schools, teachers, organizations, or not-for-profit businesses, from providing instruction, advice, support, encouragement, or information to individuals, families, and relational groups.
6. Prohibit or limit an occupational therapist from performing work consistent with article one hundred fifty-six of this title.
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Civil Practice Law and Rules, Article 45 (EVIDENCE)
§ 4505. Confidential communication to clergy privileged. Unless the person confessing or confiding waives the privilege, a clergyman, or other minister of any religion or duly accredited Christian Science practitioner, shall not be allowed disclose a confession or confidence made to him in his professional character as spiritual advisor.
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Mental Hygene, Article 41 (LOCAL AND UNIFIED SERVICES)
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* § 41.49 Adolescent suicide prevention program.
1. Within amounts appropriated, the office of mental health is hereby authorized and directed to establish and conduct, in consultation with and upon the approval of the council on children and families, a special program, the purpose of which shall be to provide grants to public or private not-for-profit organizations, or public or private schools, acting alone or in concert with others, in order to educate the general population, and in particular parents, teachers, clergy, health and mental health professionals and adolescents themselves of the positive actions that can be taken to identify and treat adolescents who are at high risk for suicide. For purposes of this section, the term "adolescent" shall mean any person under the age of twenty-one.
2. The commissioner shall in consultation with and upon the approval of the council on children and families promulgate standards to determine the eligibility of applicants for the grants herein authorized and be entitled to receive on appropriate forms such information as he deems necessary and relevant in making such determination. Such application to the extent possible shall include:
a. the projected impact and effectiveness of the program in meeting the community's need for adolescent suicide prevention programs;
b. coordination with other community and/or school services;
c. other sources of revenue available;
d. the start up and continuing operating costs of such program;
e. the number and age of youth expected to be reached by such program;
f. the range and type of services to be offered and the number and types of personnel to be employed;
g. a description of an outreach component of the program;
h. methods to be used to increase the sensitivity of professionals and the public toward identifying youth at risk of suicide; and
i. such other information as deemed pertinent by the commissioner.
3. The commissioner in consultation with the council on children and families shall specify methods to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed projects. The commissioner in consultation with and upon the approval of the council on children and families shall review and where necessary, require modifications and upon such modifications, approve or disapprove applications within thirty days of the receipt of the initial or modified application, whichever is appropriate. All applications approved by the commissioner in consultation with the council on children and families shall include a commitment to use appropriate accounting and fiscal control procedures which shall include the filing of an annual financial statement by each provider so as to ensure:
a. the proper disbursement and accounting for funds received;
b. appropriate written records regarding the population served and type and extent of services rendered by the provider;
c. confidentiality standards so as to ensure the confidentiality of records of persons receiving services; and
d. other funds, public or private, whenever resources are available.
4. Upon approval of each grant the commissioner shall contract with each grantee for a period of time not to exceed one year, but can extend such contract for one year periods when the commissioner after consulting the council on children and families determines it is appropriate.
5. Each grantee receiving payments hereunder shall submit to the commissioner within thirty days prior to the expiration of the contract a report following guidelines prepared by the commissioner which shall include:
a. the information specified in subdivision two of this section;
b. an assessment of the impact of the program on adolescents who are at high risk for suicide attempts;
c. the extent to which the program coordinated services with other community programs; and
d. any other information deemed relevant by the commissioner.
6. The commissioner shall prepare a summary of the reports required by subdivision five of this section, and forward this summary to the council on children and families for inclusion in its annual report and shall include such information in the annual report of the office of mental health.
7. The commissioner in consultation with the council on children and families shall promulgate such rules and regulations necessary and proper to implement the provision of this section.
* NB There are 2 § 41.49's
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Real Property Tax Law, Article 4, Title 2 (Real Property Tax)
§ 460. Clergy.
(1) Real property owned by a minister of the gospel, priest or rabbi of any denomination, an actual resident and inhabitant of this state, who is engaged in the work assigned by the church or denomination of which he or she is a member, or who is unable to perform such work due to impaired health or is over seventy years of age, and real property owned by his or her unremarried surviving spouse while an actual resident and inhabitant of this state, shall be exempt from taxation to the extent of fifteen hundred dollars.
(2) An exemption may be granted pursuant to this section only upon application by the owner of the property on a form prescribed or approved by the state board. The application shall be filed with the assessor of the appropriate county, city, town or village on or before the taxable status date of such county, city, town or village.
(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section or any other provision of law, in a city having a population of one million or more, applications for the exemption authorized pursuant to this section shall be considered timely filed if they are filed on or before the fifteenth day of March of the appropriate year.
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Real Property Tax Law, Article 4, Title 2 (Real Property Tax)
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§ 462. Religious corporations; property used for residential purposes.
In addition to the exemption provided in section four hundred twenty-a of this article, property owned by a religious corporation while actually used by the officiating clergymen thereof for residential purposes shall be exempt from taxation. An exemption may be granted pursuant to this section only upon application by the owner of the property on a form prescribed or approved by the state board. The application shall be filed with the assessor of the appropriate county, city, town or village on or before the taxable status date of such county, city, town or village. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section or any other provision of law, in a city having a population of one million or more, applications for the exemption authorized pursuant to this section shall be considered timely filed if they are filed on or before the fifteenth day of March of the appropriate year.
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Domestic Relations Law, Article 3, (Solemnization, Proof and Effect of Marriage)
§ 11. By whom a marriage must be solemnized. No marriage shall be valid unless solemnized by either:
1. A clergyman or minister of any religion, or by the senior leader, or any of the other leaders, of The Society for Ethical Culture in the city of New York, having its principal office in the borough of Manhattan, or by the leader of The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, having its principal office in the borough of Brooklyn of the city of New York, or of the Westchester Ethical Society, having its principal office in Westchester county, or of the Ethical Culture Society of Long Island, having its principal office in Nassau county, or of the Riverdale-Yonkers Ethical Society having its principal office in Bronx county, or by the leader of any other Ethical Culture Society affiliated with the American Ethical Union.
2. A mayor of a village, a county executive of a county, or a mayor, recorder, city magistrate, police justice or police magistrate of a city, a former mayor or the city clerk of a city of the first class of over one million inhabitants or any of his or her deputies or not more than four regular clerks, designated by him or her for such purpose as provided in section eleven-a of this chapter, except that in cities which contain more than one hundred thousand and less than one million inhabitants, a marriage shall be solemnized by the mayor, or police justice, and by no other officer of such city, except as provided in subdivisions one and three of this section.
3. A judge of the federal circuit court of appeals for the second circuit, a judge of a federal district court for the northern, southern, eastern or western district of New York, a judge of the United States court of international trade, a federal administrative law judge presiding in this state, a justice or judge of a court of the unified court system, a housing judge of the civil court of the city of New York, a retired justice or judge of the unified court system or a retired housing judge of the civil court of the city of New York certified pursuant to paragraph (k) of subdivision two of section two hundred twelve of the judiciary law, the clerk of the appellate division of the supreme court in each judicial department or a county clerk of a county wholly within cities having a population of one million or more; or,
4. A written contract of marriage signed by both parties and at least two witnesses, all of whom shall subscribe the same within this state, stating the place of residence of each of the parties and witnesses and the date and place of marriage, and acknowledged before a judge of a court of record of this state by the parties and witnesses in the manner required for the acknowledgment of a conveyance of real estate to entitle the same to be recorded.
5. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, where either or both of the parties is under the age of eighteen years a marriage shall be solemnized only by those authorized in subdivision one of this section or by (1) the mayor of a city or village, or county executive of a county, or by (2) a judge of the federal circuit court of appeals for the second circuit, a judge of a federal district court for the northern, southern, eastern or western district of New York, a judge of the United States court of international trade, or a justice or a judge of a court of the unified court system, or by (3) a housing judge of the civil court of the city of New York, or by (4) a former mayor or the clerk of a city of the first class of over one million inhabitants or any of his or her deputies designated by him or her for such purposes as provided in section eleven-a of this chapter.
6. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this article to the contrary no marriage shall be solemnized by a public officer specified in this section, other than a judge of a federal district court for the northern, southern, eastern or western district of New York, a judge of the United States court of international trade, a federal administrative law judge presiding in this state, a judge or justice of the unified court system of this State, a housing judge of the civil court of the city of New York, or a retired judge or justice of the unified court system or a retired housing judge of the civil court certified pursuant to paragraph (k) of subdivision two of section two hundred twelve of the judiciary law, outside the territorial jurisdiction in which he or she was elected or appointed. Such a public officer, however, elected or appointed within the city of New York may solemnize a marriage anywhere within such city.
7. The term "clergyman" or "minister" when used in this article, shall include those defined in section two of the religious corporations law. The word "magistrate, " when so used, includes any person referred to in the second or third subdivision.
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Domestic Relations Law, Article 3, (Solemnization, Proof and Effect of Marriage)
§ 12. Marriage, how solemnized. No particular form or ceremony is required when a marriage is solemnized as herein provided by a clergyman or magistrate, but the parties must solemnly declare in the presence of a clergyman or magistrate and the attending witness or witnesses that they take each other as husband and wife. In every case, at least one witness beside the clergyman or magistrate must be present at the ceremony.
The preceding provisions of this chapter, so far as they relate to the manner of solemnizing marriages, shall not affect marriages among the people called friends or quakers; nor marriages among the people of any other denominations having as such any particular mode of solemnizing marriages; but such marriages must be solemnized in the manner heretofore used and practiced in their respective societies or denominations, and marriages so solemnized shall be as valid as if this article had not been enacted.
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4) List nine (9) laws concerning clergy that you have found by searching your national laws.
Most of the federal laws are based out of the IRS dealing with tax exempt status:
If you are a minister of a church, your earnings for the services you perform in your capacity as a minister are subject to SE tax unless you have requested and received an exemption. See Exemption From Self-Employment (SE) Tax, later. These earnings are subject to SE tax whether you are an employee of your church or a self-employed person under the common law rules. For the specific services covered, see Qualified Services, later.
Ministers are individuals who are duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed by a religious body constituting a church or church denomination. They are given the authority to conduct religious worship, perform sacerdotal functions, and administer ordinances or sacraments according to the prescribed tenets and practices of that church or denomination.
If a church or denomination ordains some ministers and licenses or commissions others, anyone licensed or commissioned must be able to perform substantially all the religious functions of an ordained minister to be treated as a minister for social security purposes.
Employment Status for Other Tax Purposes
Even though, for social security tax purposes, you are considered a self-employed individual in performing your ministerial services, you may be considered an employee for income tax or retirement plan purposes. For income tax or retirement plan purposes, some of your income may be considered self-employment income and other income may be considered wages.
Common-law employee. Depending on all the facts and circumstances, under common-law rules you are considered either an employee or a self-employed person. Generally, you are an employee if your employer has the legal right to control both what you do and how you do it, even if you have considerable discretion and freedom of action. For more information about the common-law rules, see Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide.
If you are employed by a congregation for a salary, you are generally a common-law employee and income from the exercise of your ministry is considered wages for income tax purposes. However, amounts received directly from members of the congregation, such as fees for performing marriages, baptisms, or other personal services, are considered self-employment income.
Form SS-8. If you are not certain whether you are an employee or a self-employed person, you can get a determination from the IRS by filing Form SS-8.
Members of Religious Orders
If you are a member of a religious order who has not taken a vow of poverty, your earnings for qualified services you performed as a member of the order are subject to SE tax. See Qualified Services, later. This does not apply if you have requested and received an exemption as discussed under Exemption From Self-Employment (SE) Tax, later.
Vow of poverty. If you are a member of a religious order who has taken a vow of poverty, you are exempt from paying SE tax on your earnings for qualified services (defined later) you perform as an agent of your church or its agencies. For income tax purposes, the earnings are tax free to you. Your earnings are considered the income of the religious order.
Services covered under FICA at the election of the order. Even if you have taken a vow of poverty, the services you perform for your church or its agencies may be covered under social security. Your services are covered if your order, or an autonomous subdivision of the order, elects social security coverage for its current and future vow-of-poverty members.
The order or subdivision elects coverage by filing Form SS-16. It can elect coverage for certain vow-of-poverty members for a retroactive period of up to 20 calendar quarters before the quarter in which it files the certificate. If the election is made, the order or subdivision pays both the employer's and employee's share of the tax. You do not pay any of the FICA tax.
Services performed outside the order. Even if you are a member of a religious order who has taken a vow of poverty and are required to turn over to the order amounts you earn, your earnings are subject to federal income tax withholding and employment (FICA) tax if you:
Work for an organization outside your religious community, and
Perform work that is not required by, or done on behalf of, the order.
In this case, you are considered an employee of that outside organization. You may, however, be able to take a charitable deduction for the amount you turn over to the order. See Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
Lay employees. Lay employees generally are covered by social security. However, see Election by Church To Exclude Their Employees From FICA Coverage, later, under Religious Workers (Church Employees).
Rulings. Organizations and individuals may request rulings from the IRS on whether they are religious orders, or members of a religious order, respectively, for FICA tax, SE tax, and federal income tax withholding purposes. To request a ruling, follow the procedures in Revenue Procedure 2007-1, which is published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2007-1. (IRS, Publication 517)
Qualified services, in general, are the services you perform in the exercise of your ministry or in the exercise of your duties as required by your religious order. Income you receive for performing qualified services is subject to SE tax unless you have an exemption as explained earlier. If you have an exemption, only the income you receive for performing qualified services is exempt. The exemption does not apply to any other self-employment income.
The following discussions provide more detailed information on qualified services of ministers, members of religious orders, and Christian Science practitioners and readers.
Most services you perform as a minister, priest, rabbi, etc., are qualified services. These services include:
Performing sacerdotal functions,
Conducting religious worship, and
Controlling, conducting, and maintaining religious organizations (including the religious boards, societies, and other integral agencies of such organizations) that are under the authority of a religious body that is a church or denomination.
You are considered to control, conduct, and maintain a religious organization if you direct, manage, or promote the organization's activities.
A religious organization is under the authority of a religious body that is a church or denomination if it is organized for and dedicated to carrying out the principles of a faith according to the requirements governing the creation of institutions of the faith.
Services for nonreligious organizations. Your services for a nonreligious organization are qualified services if the services are assigned or designated by your church. Assigned or designated services qualify even if they do not involve performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship.
If your services are not assigned or designated by your church, they are qualified services only if they involve performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship.
Services that are not part of your ministry. Income from services that are not qualified services is generally subject to social security and Medicare tax withholding (not self-employment tax) under the rules that apply to employees in general. The following are not qualified services.
Services you perform for nonreligious organizations other than the services stated earlier.
Services you perform as a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church as an employee of the United States, the District of Columbia, a foreign government, or any of their political subdivisions. This is true even if you are performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship. (For example, if you perform services as a chaplain in the Armed Forces of the United States, those services are not qualified services.)
Services you perform in a government- owned and operated hospital. (These services are considered performed by a government employee, not by a minister as part of the ministry.) However, services that you perform at a church-related hospital or health and welfare institution, or a private nonprofit hospital, are considered to be part of the ministry and are considered qualified services.
Books or articles. Writing religious books or articles is considered to be in the exercise of your ministry and is considered a qualified service.
This rule also applies to members of religious orders and to Christian Science practitioners.
Members of Religious Orders
Services you perform as a member of a religious order in the exercise of duties required by the order are qualified services. The services are qualified because you perform them as an agent of the order.
For example, if you are directed to perform services for another agency of the supervising church or an associated institution, you are considered to perform the services as an agent of the order.
However, if you are directed to work outside the order, the employment will not be considered a duty required by the order unless:
Your services are the kind that are ordinarily performed by members of the order, and
Your services are part of the duties that must be exercised for, or on behalf of, the religious order as its agent.
Effect of employee status. Ordinarily, if your services are not considered directed or required of you by the order, you and the outside party for whom you work are considered employee and employer. In this case, your earnings from the services are taxed under the rules that apply to employees in general, not under the rules for services provided as agent for the order. This is true even if you have taken a vow of poverty. (IRS, Publication 517)
Churches and religious organizations, like many other charitable organizations, qualify for exemption from federal income tax under IRC section 501(c)(3) and are generally eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. To qualify for tax-exempt status, such an organization must meet the following requirements (covered in greater detail throughout this publication):
- the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes,
- net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,
- no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,
- the organization may not intervene in political campaigns, and
- the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.
(IRS, Tax Guide)
Church Exemption Through a Central/Parent Organization
A church with a parent organization may wish to contact the parent to see if it has a group ruling. If the parent holds a group ruling, then the IRS may already recognize the church as tax exempt. Under the group exemption process, the parent organization becomes the holder of a group ruling that identifies other affiliated churches or other affiliated organizations. A church is recognized as tax exempt if it is included in a list provided by the parent organization. The parent is then required to submit an annual group exemption update to the IRS in which it provides additions, deletions, and changes within the group. If the church or other affiliated organization is included on such a list, it does not need to take further action to obtain recognition of tax-exempt status.
An organization that is not covered under a group ruling should contact its parent organization to see if it is eligible to be included in the parent’s application for the group ruling. For general information on the group exemption process, see Revenue Procedure 80-27, 1980-1 C.B. 677.
(IRS, Tax Guide)
In general, no organization, including a church, may qualify for IRC section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). An IRC section 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.
Jeopardizing Tax-Exempt Status
Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive offices), or by the public in a referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.
A church or religious organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
Churches and religious organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, churches may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.
Measuring Lobbying Activity
Substantial part test. Whether a church’s or religious organization’s attempts to influence legislation constitute a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial. Churches must use the substantial part test since they are not eligible to use the expenditure test described in the next section.
Consequences of excessive lobbying activity. Under the substantial part test, a church or religious organization that conducts excessive lobbying activity in any taxable year may lose its tax-exempt status, resulting in all of its income being subject to tax. In addition, a religious organization is subject to an excise tax equal to five percent of its lobbying expenditures for the year in which it ceases to qualify for exemption. Further, a tax equal to five percent of the lobbying expenditures for the year may be imposed against organization managers, jointly and severally, who agree to the making of such expenditures knowing that the expenditures would likely result in loss of tax-exempt status.
Expenditure test. Although churches are not eligible, religious organizations may elect the expenditure test under IRC section 501(h) as an alternative method for measuring lobbying activity. Under the expenditure test, the extent of an organization’s lobbying activity will not jeopardize its tax-exempt status, provided its expenditures, related to such activity, do not normally exceed an amount specified in IRC section 4911. This limit is generally based upon the size of the organization and may not exceed $1,000,000.
Religious organizations electing to use the expenditure test must file IRS Form 5768, Election/Revocation of Election by an Eligible IRC Section 501(c)(3) Organization To Make Expenditures To Influence Legislation, at any time during the tax year for which it is to be effective. The election remains in effect for succeeding years unless it is revoked by the organization. Revocation of the election is effective beginning with the year following the year in which the revocation is filed. Religious organizations may wish to consult their tax advisors to determine their eligibility for, and the advisability of, electing the expenditure test.
Consequences of excessive lobbying activity. Under the expenditure test, a religious organization that engages in excessive lobbying activity over a four-year period may lose its tax-exempt status, making all of its income for that period subject to tax. Should the organization exceed its lobbying expenditure dollar limit in a particular year, it must pay an excise tax equal to 25 percent of the excess.
(IRS, Tax Guide)
Political Campaign Activity
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.
Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not constitute prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that: (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.
Individual Activity by Religious Leaders
The political campaign activity prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of churches or religious organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy.
However, for their organizations to remain tax exempt under IRC section 501(c)(3), religious leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official church functions. To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of church functions and publications, religious leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization. The following are examples of situations involving endorsements by religious leaders.
(IRS, Tax Guide)
Inviting a Candidate to Speak
Depending on the facts and circumstances, a church or religious organization may invite political candidates to speak at its events without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. Political candidates may be invited in their capacity as candidates, or individually (not as a candidate).
Speaking as a candidate.
Like any other IRC section 501(c)(3) organization, when a candidate is invited to speak at a church or religious organization event as a political candidate, the church or religious organization must take steps to ensure that:
- it provides an equal opportunity to the political candidates seeking the same office,
- it does not indicate any support of or opposition to the candidate (This should be stated explicitly when the candidate is introduced and in communications concerning the candidate’s attendance.), and
- no political fundraising occurs.
Equal opportunity to participate.
Like any other IRC section 501(c)(3) organization, in determining whether candidates are given an equal opportunity to participate, a church or religious organization should consider the nature of the event to which each candidate is invited, in addition to the manner of presentation. For example, a church or religious organization that invites one candidate to speak at its well attended annual banquet, but invites the opposing candidate to speak at a sparsely attended general meeting, will likely be found to have violated the political campaign prohibition, even if the manner of presentation for both speakers is otherwise neutral.
Sometimes a church or religious organization invites several candidates to speak at a public forum. A public forum involving several candidates for public office may qualify as an exempt educational activity. However, if the forum is operated to show a bias for or against any candidate, then the forum would be prohibited campaign activity, as it would be considered intervention or participation in a political campaign.
When an organization invites several candidates to speak at a forum, it should consider the following factors:
- whether questions for the candidate are prepared and presented by an independent nonpartisan panel,
- whether the topics discussed by the candidates cover a broad range of issues that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought and are of interest to the public,
- whether each candidate is given an equal opportunity to present his or her views on the issues discussed,
- whether the candidates are asked to agree or disagree with positions, agendas, platforms or statements of the organization, and
- whether a moderator comments on the questions or otherwise implies approval or disapproval of the candidates.
Speaking as a non-candidate.
Like any other IRC section 501(c)(3) organization, a church or religious organization may invite political candidates (including church members) to speak in a non-candidate capacity. For instance, a political candidate may be a public figure because he or she: (a) currently holds, or formerly held, public office; (b) is considered an expert in a non-political field; or (c) is a celebrity or has led a distinguished military, legal, or public service career. When a candidate is invited to speak at an event in a non-candidate capacity, it is not necessary for the church or religious organization to provide equal access to all political candidates.
However, the church or religious organization must ensure that:
- the individual speaks only in a non-candidate capacity,
- neither the individual nor any representative of the church makes any mention of his or her candidacy or the election, and
- no campaign activity occurs in connection with the candidate’s attendance.
In addition, the church or religious organization should clearly indicate the capacity in which the candidate is appearing and should not mention the individual’s political candidacy or the upcoming election in the communications announcing the candidate’s attendance at the event.
(IRS, Tax Guide)
Like other IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, some churches and religious organizations undertake voter education activities by distributing voter guides. Voter guides, generally, are distributed during an election campaign and provide information on how all candidates stand on various issues. These guides may be distributed with the purpose of educating voters; however, they may not be used to attempt to favor or oppose candidates for public elected office.
A careful review of the following facts and circumstances may help determine whether or not a church or religious organization’s publication or distribution of voter guides constitutes prohibited political campaign activity:
- whether the candidates’ positions are compared to the organization’s position,
- whether the guide includes a broad range of issues that the candidates would address if elected to the office sought,
- whether the description of issues is neutral,
- whether all candidates for an office are included, and
- whether the descriptions of candidates’ positions are either:
- the candidates’ own words in response to questions, or
- a neutral, unbiased and complete compilation of all candidates’ positions.
(IRS, Tax Guide)
A church or religious organization should be aware of the recordkeeping and substantiation rules imposed on donors of charitable contributions and the disclosure rules imposed on charities that receive certain quid pro quo contributions.
A donor cannot claim a tax deduction for any contribution of cash, a check or other monetary gift made on or after January 1, 2007, unless the donor maintains a record of the contribution in the form of either a bank record (such as a cancelled check) or a written communication from the charity (such as a receipt or a letter) showing the name of the charity, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
A donor cannot claim a tax deduction for any single contribution of $250 or more unless the donor obtains a contemporaneous, written acknowledgment of the contribution from the recipient church or religious organization. A church or religious organization that does not acknowledge a contribution incurs no penalty; but without a written acknowledgment, the donor cannot claim a tax deduction. Although it is a donor’s responsibility to obtain a written acknowledgment, a church or religious organization can assist the donor by providing a timely, written statement containing the following information:
- name of the church or religious organization,
- date of the contribution,
- amount of any cash contribution, and
- description (but not the value) of non-cash contributions.
In addition, the timely, written statement must contain one of the following:
- statement that no goods or services were provided by the church or religious organization in return for the contribution,
- statement that goods or services that a church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits, or
- description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services other than intangible religious benefits that the church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution.
The church or religious organization may either provide separate acknowledgments for each single contribution of $250 or more or one acknowledgment to substantiate several single contributions of $250 or more. Separate contributions are not aggregated for purposes of measuring the $250 threshold.
Disclosure Rules that Apply to Quid Pro Quo Contributions
A contribution made by a donor in exchange for goods or services is known as a quid pro quo contribution. A donor may only take a contribution deduction to the extent that his or her contribution exceeds the fair market value of the goods and services the donor receives in return for the contribution. Therefore, donors need to know the value of the goods or services. A church or religious organization must provide a written statement to a donor who makes a payment exceeding $75 partly as a contribution and partly for goods and services provided by the organization.
The church or religious organization must provide the written disclosure statement with either the solicitation or the receipt of the contribution and in a manner that is likely to come to the attention of the donor. For example, a disclosure in small print within a larger document may not meet this requirement.
Exceptions to Disclosure Statement
A church or religious organization is not required to provide a disclosure statement for quid pro quo contributions when: (a) the goods or services meet the standards for insubstantial value; or (b) the only benefit received by the donor is an intangible religious benefit.
Additionally, if the goods or services the church or religious organization provides are intangible religious benefits (examples follow), the acknowledgement for contributions of $250 or more does not need to describe those benefits.
Generally, intangible religious benefits are benefits provided by a church or religious organization that are not usually sold in commercial transactions outside a donative (gift) context.
Intangible religious benefits include:
- admission to a religious ceremony
- de minimus tangible benefits, such as wine used in religious ceremony
Benefits that are not intangible religious benefits include:
- tuition for education leading to a recognized degree
- travel services
- consumer goods
(IRS, Tax Guide)
5) How do laws of your nation, state, or local area respond to Paganism and Neo-Pagan clergy? Are there laws that prohibit certain functions our clergy usually serve (such as divination, counseling, or conducting marriages or funerals)? Does your country implicitly or explicitly state that Neo-Pagans cannot have clergy, or that they cannot perform certain functions or receive similar rights as those from other religions?
In my research there has been nothing I have found that would limit duties or functions as clergy in Albany city, Albany county, New York State, or the United States. While the NY code of laws makes many specific mentions of various denominations, they also do not exclude pagan clergy. The only laws that may be of any issue would be with regards to divination. There are laws on the books that require one to post signs stating that all forms of fortune telling is for entertainment purposes only.
6) Looking at those laws listed in questions 1 - 4 and how they affect you, are there any specific laws that seem out of place, unfair, or unjust? What is the avenue for change to these laws, and do you see change to these particular laws as necessary?
While I may feel that the laws requiring us to state that divination is for entertainment purposes only are not fair, I do see sound reasoning behind them and they do protect those of us that do divination in the event that people make life altering decisions based on our readings. Other than that, I have not come across any laws that seem out of place, unfair, or unjust. If I did find one, I’d have to go and try to get a city councilman, state legislator, or US Congressman to take up the cause to get it changed, and that is a very unlikely thing to be successful at.
There is currently one presidential executive order that I have issues with though. That is the Faith Based Initiative. While on the surface it may seem to be a good idea to give money to faith based organizations to do secular charitable deeds such as soup kitchens, I find myself agreeing with the book First Freedom First that by providing money to religion makes religion more willing to bend to the needs of the government and thus weakening both the religion and the government (Gaddy and Lynn).
7) How do you see these laws affecting how you serve your Grove, ADF, or the community as a whole?
I don’t see these laws really affecting how I serve my grove, ADF or the community at all. The laws don’t restrict or ban us from doing any specific things with the exception of what is in the IRS code regarding non-profit churches. The only other codes that may have any direct influence on us are zoning codes, but as the local Grove does not have land, and is not likely to get any soon, it’s not currently an issue. It also is not likely that the Grove would buy land in Albany itself, so the codes may not be the same where land would be purchased.
8) What is the difference between pastoral counseling and other kinds of counseling, and does the law differentiate between these types? What sort of license do you require in your state in order to perform counseling of any type? Does divination fall into this sort of counseling?
NY State laws do not explicitly deal with pastoral counseling, but there are laws regarding the licensing of counselors.
Education Law § 8402:
§ 8402. Mental health counseling.
1) Definition of the practice of mental health counseling. The practice of the profession of mental health counseling is defined as:
a) the evaluation, assessment, amelioration, treatment, modification, or adjustment to a disability, problem, or disorder of behavior, character, development, emotion, personality or relationships by the use of verbal or behavioral methods with individuals, couples, families or groups in private practice, group, or organized settings; and
b) the use of assessment instruments and mental health counseling and psychotherapy to identify, evaluate and treat dysfunctions and disorders for purposes of providing appropriate mental health counseling services.
2) Practice of mental health counseling and use of the titles "mental health counselor" and "licensed mental health counselor". Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice mental health counseling or use the title "mental health counselor". Only a person licensed under this article shall use the title "licensed mental health counselor" or any other designation tending to imply that the person is licensed to practice mental health counseling.
3) Requirements for a professional license. To qualify for a license as a "licensed mental health counselor", an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:
a) Application: File an application with the department;
b) Education: Have received an education, including a master's or higher degree in counseling from a program registered by the department or determined by the department to be the substantial equivalent thereof, in accordance with the commissioner's regulations. The graduate coursework shall include, but not be limited to, the following areas:
i) human growth and development;
ii) social and cultural foundations of counseling;
iii) counseling theory and practice and psychopathology;
iv) group dynamics;
v) lifestyle and career development;
vi) assessment and appraisal of individuals, couples and families and groups;
vii) research and program evaluation;
viii) professional orientation and ethics;
ix) foundations of mental health counseling and consultation;
x) clinical instruction; and
xi) completion of a minimum one year supervised internship or practicum in mental health counseling;
c) Experience: An applicant shall complete a minimum of three thousand hours of post-master's supervised experience relevant to the practice of mental health counseling satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
d) Examination: Pass an examination satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
e) Age: Be at least twenty-one years of age;
f) Character: Be of good moral character as determined by the department; and
g) Fees: Pay a fee of one hundred seventy-five dollars for an initial license and a fee of one hundred seventy dollars for each triennial registration period.
(Laws of New York)
Divination falls under the laws regarding fortune telling.
Penal Law, Part 3, Title J, § 165.35
A person is guilty of fortune telling when, for a fee or compensation which he directly or indirectly solicits or receives, he claims or pretends to tell fortunes, or holds himself out as being able, by claimed or pretended use of occult powers, to answer questions or give advice on personal matters or to exorcise, influence or affect evil spirits or curses; except that this section does not apply to a person who engages in the aforedescribed conduct as part of a show or exhibition solely for the purpose of entertainment or amusement.
Fortune telling is a class B misdemeanor.
(Laws of New York)
As a result, all fortune telling, and by extension, divination, must be for “entertainment purposes only”.
1. If you live near a major military base: "What are the rules regarding outside worship for the branch of the military that runs this base, and what happens if a soldier on that base wants access to a priest who is not in the military or not a military chaplain?"
There are no major military bases within a reasonable drive.
2. What are the regulations and options for prison ministry in your county and state?
I did a search for prison ministry, prison minister, and prison clergy and got no results dealing with any regulations in the NY laws (Laws of New York). When I searched the Department of Corrections web site, I found no regulations, and the link that it provided for regulations brought me to the site that I did the initial search on (NY State Department of Corrections)
Clingan, T. (2008, May 28). E-mail response from County Clerk.
Code of the City of Albany, New York (Albany County). (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2008, from http://www.e-codes.generalcode.com/codebook_frameset.asp?t=ws&cb=0934_A
Gaddy, C. W., & Lynn, B. W. (2008). First Freedom First. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
IRS. (n.d.). Publication 517 (2007), Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from http://www.irs.gov/publications/p517/
IRS. (n.d.). Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf
Laws of New York. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2008, from http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menugetf.cgi?COMMONQUERY=LAWS
NY State Department of Corrections. (n.d.). Department of Corrections. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from http://www.docs.state.ny.us/