Special Rules for Certain Employees
This section deals with special rules for people in certain types of employment: members of the clergy, members of religious orders, people working
for foreign employers, military personnel, and volunteers.
If you are a member of the clergy, you must include in your income offerings and fees you receive for marriages, baptisms, funerals, masses, etc.,
in addition to your salary. If the offering is made to the religious institution, it is not taxable to you.
If you are a member of a religious organization and you give your outside earnings to the organization, you still must include the earnings in your
income. However, you may be entitled to a charitable contribution deduction for the amount paid to the organization. See chapter 26.
Special rules for housing apply to members of the clergy. Under these rules, you do not include in your income the rental value of a home
(including utilities) or a housing allowance provided to you as part of your pay. The home or allowance must be provided as compensation for your
duties as an ordained, licensed, or commissioned minister. However, you must include the rental value of the home or the housing allowance as earnings
from self-employment on Schedule SE (Form 1040) if you are subject to the self-employment tax. For more information, see Publication 517, Social
Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers.
A pension or retirement pay for a member of the clergy is usually treated the same as any other pension or annuity. It must be reported on lines
16a and 16b of Form 1040 or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A.
Members of Religious Orders
If you are a member of a religious order who has taken a vow of poverty, how you treat earnings that you renounce and turn over to the order
depends on whether your services are performed for the order.
Services performed for the order.
If you are performing the services as an agent of the order in the exercise of duties required by the order, do not include in your income the
amounts turned over to the order.
If your order directs you to perform services for another agency of the supervising church or an associated institution, you are considered to be
performing the services as an agent of the order. Any wages you earn as an agent of an order that you turn over to the order are not included in your
You are a member of a church order and have taken a vow of poverty. You renounce any claims to your earnings and turn over to the order any
salaries or wages you earn. You are a registered nurse, so your order assigns you to work in a hospital that is an associated institution of the
church. However, you remain under the general direction and control of the order. You are considered to be an agent of the order and any wages you
earn at the hospital that you turn over to your order are not included in your income.
Services performed outside the order.
If you are directed to work outside the order, your services are not an exercise of duties required by the order unless they meet both of the
- They are the kind of services that are ordinarily the duties of members of the order.
- They are part of the duties that you must exercise for, or on behalf of, the religious order as its agent.
If you are an employee of a third party, the services you perform for the third party will not be considered directed or required of you by the
order. Amounts you receive for these services are included in your income, even if you have taken a vow of poverty.
Mark Brown is a member of a religious order and has taken a vow of poverty. He renounces all claims to his earnings and turns over his earnings to
Mark is a school teacher. He was instructed by the superiors of the order to get a job with a private tax-exempt school. Mark became an employee of
the school, and, at his request, the school made the salary payments directly to the order.
Because Mark is an employee of the school, he is performing services for the school rather than as an agent of the order. The wages Mark earns
working for the school are included in his income.
Special rules apply if you work for a foreign employer.
If you are a U.S. citizen who works in the United States for a foreign government, an international organization, a foreign embassy, or any foreign
employer, you must include your salary in your income.
Social security and Medicare taxes.
You are exempt from social security and Medicare taxes if you are employed in the United States by an international organization or a foreign
government. However, you must pay self-employment tax on your earnings from services performed in the United States, even though you are not
self-employed. This rule also applies if you are an employee of a qualifying wholly-owned instrumentality of a foreign government.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, or if you are a U.S. citizen but also a citizen of the Philippines, and you work for an international organization
in the United States, your salary from that source is exempt from tax. If you work for a foreign government in the United States, your salary from
that source is exempt from tax if your work is like the work done by employees of the United States in that foreign country and the foreign government
gives an equal exemption to employees of the United States in that country.
Waiver of alien status.
If you are an alien who works for a foreign government or international organization and you file a waiver under section 247(b) of the Immigration
and Nationality Act to keep your immigrant status, different rules may apply. See Foreign Employer in Publication 525.
For information on income earned abroad, get Publication 54.
Payments you receive as a member of a military service generally are taxed as wages except for retirement pay, which is taxed as a pension.
Allowances generally are not taxed. For more information on the tax treatment of military allowances and benefits, get Publication 3, Armed
Forces' Tax Guide.
Military retirement pay.
If your retirement pay is based on age or length of service, it is taxable and must be included in your income as a pension on lines 16a and 16b of
Form 1040, or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A. Do not include in your income the amount of any reduction in retirement or retainer pay to provide a
survivor annuity for your spouse or children under the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan or the Survivor Benefit Plan.
For more information on survivor annuities, see chapter 11.
If you are retired on disability, see Military and Government Disability Pensions under Sickness and Injury Benefits, later.
Do not include in your income any veterans' benefits paid under any law, regulation, or administrative practice administered by the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA). The following amounts paid to veterans or their families are not taxable.
- Education, training, and subsistence allowances.
- Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid either to veterans or their families.
- Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living.
- Grants for motor vehicles for veterans who lost their sight or the use of their limbs.
- Veterans' insurance proceeds and dividends paid either to veterans or their beneficiaries, including the proceeds of a veteran's endowment
policy paid before death.
- Interest on insurance dividends you leave on deposit with the VA.
Rehabilitative program payments.
VA payments to hospital patients and resident veterans for their services under the VA's therapeutic or rehabilitative programs are not treated as
nontaxable veterans' benefits. Report these payments as income on line 21 of Form 1040.
The tax treatment of amounts you receive as a volunteer worker for the Peace Corps or similar agency is covered in the following discussions.
Living allowances you receive as a Peace Corps volunteer or volunteer leader for housing, utilities, household supplies, food, and clothing are
exempt from tax.
The following allowances must be included in your income and reported as wages.
- Allowances paid to your spouse and minor children while you are a volunteer leader training in the United States.
- Living allowances designated by the Director of the Peace Corps as basic compensation. These are allowances for personal items such as
domestic help, laundry and clothing maintenance, entertainment and recreation, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.
- Leave allowances.
- Readjustment allowances or termination payments. These are considered received by you when credited to your account.
Gary Carpenter, a Peace Corps volunteer, gets $175 a month as a readjustment allowance during his period of service, to be paid to him in a lump
sum at the end of his tour of duty. Although the allowance is not available to him until the end of his service, Gary must include it in his income on
a monthly basis as it is credited to his account.
Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).
If you are a VISTA volunteer, you must include meal and lodging allowances paid to you in your income as wages.
National Senior Services Corps programs.
Do not include in your income amounts you receive for supportive services or reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses from the following programs.
- Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
- Foster Grandparent Program.
- Senior Companion Program.
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
If you receive amounts for supportive services or reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses from SCORE, do not include these amounts in income.
Volunteer tax counseling.
Do not include in your income any reimbursements you receive for transportation, meals, and other expenses you have in training for, or actually
providing, volunteer federal income tax counseling for the elderly (TCE).
You can deduct as a charitable contribution your unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in taking part in the volunteer income tax assistance (VITA)
Sickness and Injury Benefits
This section discusses many types of sickness and injury benefits including disability benefits and military and government disability pensions.
Generally, if you retire on disability, you must report your pension or annuity as income. There is a tax credit for people who are permanently and
totally disabled. For information on this credit and the definition of permanent and total disability, see chapter 34.
Generally, you must report as income any amount you receive for personal injury or sickness through an accident or health plan that is paid for by
your employer. If both you and your employer pay for the plan, only the amount you receive that is due to your employer's payments is reported as
income. However, certain payments may not be taxable to you. Your employer should be able to give you specific details about your pension plan and
tell you the amount you paid for your disability pension. In addition to disability pensions and annuities, you may be receiving other payments for
sickness and injury.
Cost paid by you.
If you pay the entire cost of a health or accident insurance plan, do not include any amounts you receive from the plan for personal injury or
sickness as income on your tax return. If your plan reimbursed you for medical expenses you deducted in an earlier year, you may have to include some,
or all, of the reimbursement in your income. See Reimbursement in a later year in chapter 23.
Generally, if you are covered by an accident or health insurance plan through a cafeteria plan, and the amount of the insurance premiums was not
included in your income, you are not considered to have paid the premiums and you must include any benefits you receive in your income. If the amount
of the premiums was included in your income, you are considered to have paid the premiums, and any benefits you receive are not taxable.
Accrued leave payment.
If you retire on disability, any lump-sum payment you receive for accrued annual leave is a salary payment. The payment is not a disability
payment. Include it in your income in the tax year you receive it.
Retirement and profit-sharing plans.
If you receive payments from a retirement or profit-sharing plan that does not provide for disability retirement, do not treat the payments as a
disability pension. The payments must be reported as a pension or annuity. For more information on pensions, see chapter 11.
How to report.
If you retired on disability, you must include in income any disability pension you receive under a plan that is paid for by your employer. You
must report your taxable disability payments as wages on line 7 of Form 1040 or Form 1040A, until you reach minimum retirement age. Minimum retirement
age generally is the age at which you can first receive a pension or annuity if you are not disabled.
Beginning on the day after you reach minimum retirement age, payments you receive are taxable as a pension or annuity. Report the payments on lines
16a and 16b of Form 1040, or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A. The rules for reporting pensions are explained in How To Report in chapter
Military and Government Disability Pensions
Certain military and government disability pensions are not taxable.
You may be able to exclude from income amounts you receive as a pension, annuity, or similar allowance for personal injury or sickness resulting
from active service in one of the following government services.
- The armed forces of any country.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- The Public Health Service.
- The Foreign Service.
Conditions for exclusion.
Do not include the disability payments in your income if any of the following conditions apply.
- You were entitled to receive a disability payment before September 25, 1975.
- You were a member of a listed government service or its reserve component, or were under a binding written commitment to become a member, on
September 24, 1975.
- You receive the disability payments for a combat-related injury. This is a personal injury or sickness that:
- Results directly from armed conflict,
- Takes place while you are engaged in extra-hazardous service,
- Takes place under conditions simulating war, including training exercises such as maneuvers, or
- Is caused by an instrumentality of war.
- You would be entitled to receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if you filed an application for it.
Your exclusion under this condition is equal to the amount you would be entitled to receive from the VA.
Pension based on years of service.
If you receive a disability pension based on years of service, you generally must include it in your income. But if it is a result of active
service in one of the listed government services and one of the listed conditions applies, do not include in income the part of your pension that you
would have received if the pension had been based on a percentage of disability. You must include the rest of your pension in your income.
Do not include in your income disability payments you receive for injuries resulting directly from a violent attack that occurs while you are a
U.S. government employee performing official duties. For your disability payments to be tax exempt, the Secretary of State must determine the attack
was a terrorist attack.
VA disability benefits.
Disability benefits you receive from the VA are not included in your income. If you are a military retiree and you receive disability benefits from
other than the VA, do not include in your income the amount of disability benefits equal to the VA benefits to which you are entitled.
Retroactive VA determination.
If you retire from the armed services based on years of service and are later given a retroactive service-connected disability rating by the VA,
your retirement pay for the retroactive period is excluded from income up to the amount of VA disability benefits you would have been entitled to
receive. You can claim a refund of any tax paid on the excludable amount (subject to the statute of limitations) by filing an amended return on Form
1040X for each previous year during the retroactive period.
If you receive a lump-sum disability severance payment and are later awarded VA disability benefits, do not include in your income the portion of
the severance payment equal to the VA benefit you would have been entitled to receive in that same year. However, you must include in your income any
lump-sum readjustment or other nondisability severance payment you received on release from active duty, even if you are later given a retroactive
disability rating by the VA.
Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts
Long-term care insurance contracts are generally treated as accident and health insurance contracts. Amounts you receive from them (other than
policyholder dividends or premium refunds) generally are excludable from income as amounts received for personal injury or sickness. To claim an
exclusion for payments made on a per diem or other periodic basis under a long-term care insurance contract, you must file Form 8853 with your return.
A long-term care insurance contract is an insurance contract that only provides coverage for qualified long-term care services. The
- Be guaranteed renewable,
- Not provide for a cash surrender value or other money that can be paid, assigned, pledged, or borrowed,
- Provide that refunds, other than refunds on the death of the insured or complete surrender or cancellation of the contract, and dividends
under the contract may be used only to reduce future premiums or increase future benefits, and
- Generally not pay or reimburse expenses incurred for services or items that would be reimbursed under Medicare, except where Medicare is a
secondary payer or the contract makes per diem or other periodic payments without regard to expenses.
Qualified long-term care services.
Qualified long-term care services are:
- Necessary diagnostic, preventive, therapeutic, curing, treating, mitigating, and rehabilitative services, and maintenance and personal care
- Required by a chronically ill individual and provided pursuant to a plan of care as prescribed by a licensed health care
Chronically ill individual.
A chronically ill individual is one who has been certified by a licensed health care professional within the previous 12 months as one of the
- An individual who, for at least 90 days, is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living without substantial assistance due to
loss of functional capacity. Activities of daily living are eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing, and continence.
- An individual who requires substantial supervision to be protected from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive
Limit on exclusion.
You can generally exclude from gross income up to $210 a day for 2002. This limit is indexed for inflation. See Limit on exclusion,
under Long-Term Care Insurance Contracts, under Sickness and Injury Benefits in Publication 525 for more information.
Amounts you receive as workers' compensation for an occupational sickness or injury are fully exempt from tax if they are paid under a workers'
compensation act or a statute in the nature of a workers' compensation act. The exemption also applies to your survivors. The exemption, however, does
not apply to retirement plan benefits you receive based on your age, length of service, or prior contributions to the plan, even if you retired
because of an occupational sickness or injury.
If part of your workers' compensation reduces your social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits received, that part is considered
social security (or equivalent railroad retirement) benefits and may be taxable. For more information, see Publication 915, Social Security and
Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.
Return to work.
If you return to work after qualifying for workers' compensation, payments you continue to receive while assigned to light duties are taxable.
Report these payments as wages on line 7 of Form 1040 or Form 1040A, or on line 1 of Form 1040EZ.
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