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2020 news 5 templateMinisters who chose to opt out of Social Security may have the opportunity to opt in if legislation introduced by a California congressman is adopted. Republican Kevin McCarthy introduced the “Clergy Act” (H. R. 5904) in mid-February. It would offer clergy members who filed the form to renounce receiving any benefits from the system a two-year window during which they could revoke the exemption and re-enter the program.

Similar legislation last created a window for reentry in 1999.

The option to avoid payment of Social Security/Medicare coverage was afforded to accommodate individuals who, because of conscience or religious principles, were opposed to the program. Some, however, chose to opt out solely for financial reasons. Many who took this path came to regret it as they approached retirement age without Medicare or other Social Security benefits.

Nazarene polity does not endorse renunciation of Social Security.

“From conversations with pastors, we are aware that some of our clergy have opted out of Social Security,” said Kevin P. Gilmore, director of Pensions and Benefits USA. “If this legislation is passed, it will provide a seldom offered opportunity for them to take advantage of the valuable medical, disability, retirement, and death benefits Social Security has to offer."

According to the bill, a minister seeking to re-enter the system would be required to apply no later than the due date of the Federal income tax return (including any extension thereof) for the minister’s second taxable year beginning after December 31, 2020. As proposed, McCarthy’s legislation would not require the payment of retroactive Social Security taxes for years before the opt-in is effective. 

More on this topic can be found in P&B Memo 10: Can Ministers Opt Out of Social Security. The text of the bill can be found here.

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