All churches in the Florida Annual Conference are asked to provide some level of Accountable Reimbursement for their pastor's professional business expenses.
GCFA provides the information on the Long Form for church policies at www.gcfa.org/8LongFormARP.pdf and www.gcfa.org/5Q&AonARP.pdf on their website.
This set of guidelines is intended to bring some uniformity for the establishment of these accounts and in the making of pastoral appointments.
1) Although RA's appear on the graduated salary scale, they are not considered personal income or a benefit to the pastor. RA's are the cost of doing business in each particular church.
2) All churches should be encouraged to establish an RA at the Annual Charge Conference. Smaller churches will be encouraged to establish at least a minimum
standard of accountability and financial responsibility with the assistance, if necessary, of another church.
3) Guidance will be given to all churches for some level of RA's. A range of 5 - 10% of the pastor's compensation package is recommended to each church. Figures
below or above that recommended range will be questioned by the Cabinet.
4) An "Accountable Reimbursement" Account
- May not be a salary reduction agreement.
- Must be a written agreement prepared and approved in advance. The agreement must state the dollar amount.
- The agreement must be established annually by the Charge Conference at the time the salary is set for the ensuing year.
5) Contributions to clergy health insurance, by law, can not be paid out of areimbursable account.
6) Pastors moving to appointments where a reimbursable account has been approved cannot move the reimbursable to be included as salary.
7) Items which may be included as allowable expenses are:
- professional journals and publications
- books which are to become a part of a professional library (not personal)
- meals and overnight lodging when away from home for professional and business reasons
- other business expense (as indicated on the GCFA website).
- These items are not personal income, i.e. to buy a computer, and are not tied to an individual pastor like a pension or cafeteria plan.
8) Items such as a housing allowance or contributions for family health insurance will not be included in appointment decisions by the Cabinet. Payments for family health insurance are the responsibility of the clergy. If a local church elects to cover family health insurance, it should be considered as a raise and not considered in the FA. A cafeteria plan will be used to take advantage of tax benefits.
9) An "Accountable Reimbursement" Account where established by a local church will be listed in the graduated salary book (and RUAH) but will not be considered
an additional factor for appointment purposes. All appointments will be made in accordance to Paragraphs 430 - 435 in the 2000 Book of Discipline only.
10) Accounts received for reimbursement should not be included in the pastor's gross income for Income Tax or Social Security Tax purposes, nor in calculation
of the Plan Compensation base for pension purposes.
The material in this document should not be construed as legal or tax advice. In all matters relating to tax planning, an attorney or CPA should be consulted for appropriate advice.