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-Clergy Housing Tax Break Ruled Unconstitutional Again

by Dr. D ~ October 20th, 2017

220px-Constitution_of_the_United_States,_page_1

A federal judge has ruled once more that the clergy housing tax break is unconstitutional. Her first 2013 ruling against the tax break was overturned by an appeals court in 2014. Now the same judge has ruled against the break in a new case initiated by the atheist group- FFRF. Here’s the story from Christianity Today:

Once again, a federal judge has declared that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Offered only to “ministers of the gospel,” the 60-year-old tax break excludes the rental value of a home from the taxable income of US clergy. It’s the “most important tax benefit available to ministers,” according to GuideStone Financial Resources. …

Wisconsin district judge Barbara Crabb first ruled against the housing allowance in 2013, …

But an appeals court overturned her decision in 2014, ruling that the atheist plaintiffs from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) was not sufficiently harmed by the tax break to challenge it in court. …

…The FFRF changed how it compensates its leaders to match the housing allowances that churches give pastors, and sued again when its co-presidents were denied the tax break. On Friday, Crabb ruled in their favor again.

<Read the whole article>

For a more detailed article on the decision itself see:

Clergy Housing Tax Break Ruled Unconstitutional – Again

Response: Judge Crabb is also ‘famous’ for her ruling against the National Day of Prayer which was overturned by the 7th Circuit. Her past rulings suggest that she is hardly unbiased when it comes to religion.

Fact is the IRS allows tax housing breaks for a number of different groups including military and even college professors under some circumstances. This ruling was inspired by an activist atheist group and is just the beginning. If it is allowed to stand, look for new attacks on the tax exemption for churches and religious organizations.

Please note that the housing break for ministers is very important since the majority are vastly underpaid considering their education and the hours they put in. Also many times their residences are viewed as part of the church itself and are used for small church meetings, gatherings, and unfortunately for unsolicited ‘visits’ by parishioners.               *Top

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