SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1128. When may members of certain religious groups receive an exemption from the Social Security tax?

As a member of certain religious groups, you may qualify for an exemption from the Social Security tax. You must waive your rights to all benefits under the Social Security Act, including hospital insurance benefits. You may be either an employee or self-employed. The following requirements must also be met:

  1. You must be a member of a recognized religious sect that has established tenets and teachings by which you are conscientiously opposed to accepting benefits under a private or public insurance plan. This includes benefits such as payments in the event of death, disability or retirement, or payments towards the cost of medical care (including the benefits of any insurance system established by SSA);

  2. Beginning after December 31, 1988, your wages are not subject to Social Security tax when you are paid by your employer if you and your employer are members of such a religious group. Both you and your employer must have approved applications for exemptions as provided in §1129. The employer for the purpose of this exemption is:

    1. A self-employed individual;

    2. A partnership provided all the partners have approved exemptions;

    3. Effective with remuneration paid after December 31, 1988, a church or a church-controlled organization if the organization has in effect an exemption from payment of Social Security taxes (IRS Form 8274, Certification by Churches and Qualified Church-Controlled Organizations Electing Exemption from Employers Social Security Taxes) on its employees;

  3. You have never received or been entitled to any benefits payable under Title II (Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) or Title XVIII (Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled) of the Social Security Act;

  4. The religious group of which you are a member has been in existence continuously since December 31, 1950; and

  5. The religious group makes reasonable provision for its dependent members and has done so since December 31, 1950.