An Overview of Tax Issues for Synagogues (and Other Religious Congregations)

19 Pages Posted: 20 May 2010 Last revised: 9 Jun 2010

Ellen P. Aprill

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Date Written: May 19, 2010


This 9 page document discusses the issues that most often have (or should have) been asked in the many years that I have been giving pro bono advice to synagogues locally and nationally: (a) requirements for setting compensation; (b) lobbying and political activities; (c) substantiation of charitable contributions, (d) charitable fundraising, (e) payroll taxes and withholding for clergy, (f) parsonage and housing allowances, and (g) discretionary funds. The summary of the applicable rules is designed to help guide lay leaders and congregational staff, whether volunteer or professional. Each topic appears on a single page, so that a page or pages can easily be distributed to those who have need of or interest in a particular topic; congregations have my permission to do so.

Two versions of the document follow. The first speaks specifically of “synagogues” and includes some discussion, such as the treatment of cantorial soloists, limited to that context. The second version, developed after a reader asked permission to adapt the guide for use at his church, speaks more generally of “religious congregations” rather than “synagogues.”

Suggested Citation

Aprill, Ellen P., An Overview of Tax Issues for Synagogues (and Other Religious Congregations) (May 19, 2010). Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2010-24. Available at SSRN: or

Ellen P. Aprill (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-1157 (Phone)
213-380-3769 (Fax)

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