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Avoiding an Audit

How likely are you to be audited?

Ministers who report their income taxes as employees, earn less than $100,000 per year, do not have excessive itemized deductions, and do not claim any "audit triggers," have an audit risk of about 1 percent. This is close to the overall audit risk for all taxpayers. There are about 500,000 ministers in the United States, meaning that 5,000 of them could be audited each year.

Of course, some regions have higher audit risks. The audit rate is highest in the IRS Western region (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington).

Since moving is not much of an option, here are eight tips for all ministers to reduce your risk of being audited--or lower your penalties if you are.

1. Report income taxes as an employee.

The Tax Court recently ruled that a United Methodist minister in North Carolina could not report his church compensation as a self-employed professional for federal income tax purposes. The Court concluded that the minister was an employee ...

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