Religious Exemptions from SECA Tax

There are some special exemptions from self-employment (SECA) tax that may apply if you are a member of certain religions, or you work for a religious group.

If you are a member of a religious order who has taken a vow of poverty, you are exempt from self-employment tax as long as you are working for the church or a church agency. But if you are working for yourself, you must pay SECA tax.

If you have not taken a vow of poverty, but you are a minister, member of a religious order, or a Christian Science practitioner, you can get an exemption from SECA tax if you file IRS Form 4361, Application for Exemption from Self-Employment Tax for Use by Ministers, Members of Religious Orders, and Christian Science Practitioners. To get a copy, call the IRS at 1-800-TAX-FORM.

If you are a member of a recognized sect that has been in existence since December 31, 1950 and that is opposed to insurance, you may be exempt from social security and Medicare tax (and thus, SECA tax) if you are conscientiously opposed to pension plans or life, disability, or medical insurance and you waive all social security benefits. To get the exemption, you must file IRS Form 4029, Application for Exemption from Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Waiver of Benefits, which you can obtain by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM.

If none of the above apply to you and you are an employee of a church or church-controlled organization that has itself elected exemption from social security and Medicare taxes, you will have to pay SECA tax if you are paid $108.28 or more in a year by the church or organization.