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Thread: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by Tigger View Post
    Yes, the wealth of the congregation does figure into the health of a church. I won't/can't speak for the Catholic Church and its heirarchy since that's not something I am intimately familiar with. I do see that doing this would force churches to decrease the monies available for things like missions and outreach work. It would put the storefronts out of business ASAP. The mega church groups would not really be affected. How about when a church has a large following but simply doesn't have money? Inner cities. Small midwestern towns. Things like that.
    I don't see how this affects the Church, it affects the preacher. The Preacher has to pay taxes on the value for the use of the house. I would think the Church doesn't 'belong' to the Preacher and he gets to dip into the tithes for his personal use.

    I am very familiar with small town churches- they vary is size from the simplest building to the First Baptist Church- a huge building. Each does what it can, the tiny churches we have in Walters don't fund massive outreach programs now. I dare say the preacher for the First Baptist having to pay a fair value amount in taxes on the use of the 'Church house' doesn't dent the outreach programs, might dent his sending his kids to a non church supported school a mite....

    The mission work the Church does over seas is done through a private donation drive within the entire community and those going on the mission. The Church in no way funds the trips 100%, so I don't see that as a hit. Now back in the days I attended the First Methodist Church we had more envelopes than a postal carrier! One was for the building fund, one for the community service work, and one for the overseas church we supported in Africa. Separate money going into a separate pocket so the issue doesn't seem to be one of affecting the good works a church may or may not actually be engaged in.

    Now inner city churches- I can see a national network type church pulling a money draining church. But that is a different issue I would say.

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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by ttwtt78640 View Post
    No, but it is a violation of the 14th amendment. It does not establish any particular national religion, but it does offer unequal protection of the law.
    The first amendment prohibits a great deal more than just the official endorsement of a national religion. The government cannot prop one religion up over others in any way, nor religion over the secular. You'd have to see if precedent supports your 14th amendment argument, though. I don't think it does.
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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by ttwtt78640 View Post
    You are way out there now, since the clergy are not self employed - they are paid employees of the church.
    Actually many preachers are self employed, much simpler for the smaller churches to meet the tax codes. A business that provides something of value in lieu of salary for an employee has to report that as an expense for the business- it would appear on the W4 of the employee. Until now that was an exemption for the Church and employee, now apparently it won't be.

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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by Tigger View Post
    What you apparently miss is that Mission work is a major part of the doctrine of many of these churches. Whether that's the local food pantry, UNICEF, LAMP, or any number of other missions inside and outside of their local communities.
    Just because they really want to be able to do these things with their money rather than pay their taxes doesn't mean that they should. I find it hilarious that you have your lean as "very conservative" and yet you are on here talking about these people should have special rights and priveledges. Aren't you people against that?
    “I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”


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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by j-mac View Post
    Yes....And you wrote this: "The fact is most churches spend a decent amount of money on missions, harassing people and various other activities that would easily cover the cost of the taxes." Why? Because you hold no ill feelings for religion obviously... Maybe you should not try and be clever...You're not good at it.
    Acknowledging that churches harass people is a form of hate now? So then you either are saying that churches do not harass people or you hate religion as well. Which is it?

    For the record I have had churches, sometimes the same church over and over again, even after I told them I have a church and not interested in theirs. Is that not harrassment? They leave flyers on people cars and doors, and hand them out in person. They are outside, downtown constantly asking me if I would like to pray or preaching about things people are doing whether warranted, asked for or not. I get phone calls from churches. I hear about it at work. The fact is churches spend a great deal of time and money finding more and more ways to tell people about their beliefs even after being asked to stop. They harass people.

    Of course you must maintain that no church ever takes part in any of these or other types of activities because by acknowledging that these things ever happen would mean you sir must hate the religion.
    “I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”


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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by Paschendale View Post
    The first amendment prohibits a great deal more than just the official endorsement of a national religion. The government cannot prop one religion up over others in any way, nor religion over the secular. You'd have to see if precedent supports your 14th amendment argument, though. I don't think it does.
    Care to support that bold assertion using a precedent?

    Tax law special provision overturned by equal protection argument:

    FindLaw | Cases and Codes

    http://www.kentlaw.edu/faculty/ebrod...R-prop-tax.pdf
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    Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by notquiteright View Post
    Actually many preachers are self employed, much simpler for the smaller churches to meet the tax codes. A business that provides something of value in lieu of salary for an employee has to report that as an expense for the business- it would appear on the W4 of the employee. Until now that was an exemption for the Church and employee, now apparently it won't be.
    Again you screw up. A W4 declares your filing status and number of dependents to the employer, a W2 declares taxable income paid to and taxes withheld from the employee.
    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself.
    Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by notquiteright View Post
    I don't see how this affects the Church, it affects the preacher. The Preacher has to pay taxes on the value for the use of the house. I would think the Church doesn't 'belong' to the Preacher and he gets to dip into the tithes for his personal use.
    I can only speak for the Protestant (predominantly Lutheran) churches I'm familiar with, but in those cases the Pastor is a salaried employee. They get a weekly/monthly paycheck just like the rest of us. That is what they have to live on, no dipping into church funds for personal expenses.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kreton View Post
    Just because they really want to be able to do these things with their money rather than pay their taxes doesn't mean that they should. I find it hilarious that you have your lean as "very conservative" and yet you are on here talking about these people should have special rights and priveledges. Aren't you people against that?
    What I think you're missing is that organized religious groups and clergy have a slightly different place in society than a regular citizen or business. This nation was founded on the ideal that the Government has no place in religious matters. Unfortunately that's changed somewhat over the years, but that is the foundation upon which these tax exemptions were created. To remove them would totally change the church-government relationship.

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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by danarhea View Post
    I agree with this decision. In giving clergy members special treatment over everybody else, when paying taxes does not hinder their ability to do their job, the establishment clause of the US Constitution is violated.

    I guess I don't need to beat the IRS by forming my own religion now. LOL.

    Article is here.
    As far as I know, IRS Code section 119 pertains to this type of housing.

    26 USC § 119 - Meals or lodging furnished for the convenience of the employer | Title 26 - Internal Revenue Code | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute

    (a) Meals and lodging furnished to employee, his spouse, and his dependents, pursuant to employment
    There shall be excluded from gross income of an employee the value of any meals or lodging furnished to him, his spouse, or any of his dependents by or on behalf of his employer for the convenience of the employer, but only if—

    (1)in the case of meals, the meals are furnished on the business premises of the employer, or

    (2)in the case of lodging, the employee is required to accept such lodging on the business premises of his employer as a condition of his employment.


    So, for example, when the President of a University of California campus, say UC Berkeley, is provided housing as a requirement of employment, the value of the use of the mansion he gets to live in is not taxable as income.

    But, as a result of the lawsuit brought by the "Freedom from Religion" activists, a Minister living in a church provided home, as a requirement of employment, must claim the use of a church provided home as income.

    Perhaps the fallout from this suit will strike deeper than intended. Liberal educators will likely have some problems, if I'm reading this right.

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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by Tigger View Post
    What I think you're missing is that organized religious groups and clergy have a slightly different place in society than a regular citizen or business. This nation was founded on the ideal that the Government has no place in religious matters. Unfortunately that's changed somewhat over the years, but that is the foundation upon which these tax exemptions were created. To remove them would totally change the church-government relationship.
    So to be clear, you do think that special rights are more important that equal rights? That because someone serves the church they should not be held to the same standard as the rest of us. It is important to you that certain groups be given special rights and priveledges? Does that about sum it up?
    “I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”


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