11 acceptable housing expenses, 5 to avoid

Ministers are able to claim many housing expenses as exclusions for income tax purposes. If you’re gathering information for your tax return or to provide to a tax preparer, here are 11 exclusions you can take:

• Mortgage payments (interest and principal)

• Real estate taxes

• Property insurance

• Utilities (gas, water, electricity, sewer, garbage pickup, local telephone service)

• Appliances and furniture (purchase, rent and repairs)

• HOA dues

• Pest control

• Yard maintenance and improvements

• Maintenance items (household cleaners, light bulbs, etc.)

• Down-payment on a home

• Remodeling expenses

There are also some housing expenses that are denied. Avoid claiming these five:

• Cleaning service

• Food

• Domestic help

• Expenses on a second home or vacation home

• Home equity loan payments (unless used to pay for housing expenses such as remodeling)

Please remember your claimed housing allowance is the lesser of these actual expenses or the church-approved amount. Therefore, our recommendation is to estimate a little high for the amount you submit to, and what’s ultimately approved by, the church.