CPAs Who Prepare Missionary Tax Returns

I receive regular requests from missionaries for a referral to a qualified CPA with experience in missionary tax returns. It’s a complex, difficult speciality, and one that doesn’t pay that well. CPAs have to master this field out of passion for missions.

I’ve posted a page listing CPAs who’ve posted here saying that this is what they do. I can make no recommendation, and I’m not familiar with all the CPAs listed. Therefore, you should make certain that these or any other CPAs you choose to use are familiar with the material posted here on the peculiar tax problems of missionaries.

And never, ever use a tax preparer who is not a CPA. Most CPAs don’t know this material. No store-front services do. Find someone who can help you do it right.

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  1. By the way, as a former supported missionary please allow me to save some other poor servant a lot of potential headache. Earlier in my ministry I was a supported missionary working with a local congregation. All of the support checks would come to me and for accountability purposes I would turn them over to the treasurer who would issue me a bi-weekly check. At years end he would issue me a W-2 for the total annual amount. As a missionary I considered myself a "contractor" and had my ministry organized as a "business" in which I kept up with my expenses and reported them on a schedule "c". Things went well for several years until the IRS subjected me to desk audit claiming I was an "employee" of the church and pointing to the filed W-2's as proof. For those who don't do tax, an employee's unreimbursed business expenses are treated as a deduction subject to 2% of AGI and are rather limited while a business gets to deduct all reasonable expenses from total income. After six months I finally won my case (and if anyone is in the same situation contact me and I'll help you find the relevant provisions and case law) but it all would have been avoided if the treasurer had issued me a 1099 instead. Now to be fair, most placed ministers are indeed "employees" for tax purposes but the case law does allow for certain situations – missionaries among them – where contractor status applies.

  2. Todd,

    Thanks for the reminder.


    There are serious tax advantages to treating a missionary as an independent contractor, and I think that's almost always the correct treatment.