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

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

    A federal judge has found unconstitutional a law that lets clergy members avoid paying income taxes on compensation that is designated part of a housing allowance.
    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.
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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 guess I don't need to beat the IRS by forming my own religion now. LOL.
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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.
    Indeed a silly law, but also easy to work around, for the most part; simply have the church drop the housing allowance and lease/buy the property directly then allow their clergy to live there rent free.

    In many cases property owned by/used by a church is also exempted from local property taxation.
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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by ttwtt78640 View Post
    Indeed a silly law, but also easy to work around, for the most part; simply have the church drop the housing allowance and lease/buy the property directly then allow their clergy to live there rent free.

    In many cases property owned by/used by a church is also exempted from local property taxation.
    And it shouldn't be. Religious organizations shouldn't get that special treatment.
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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by Paschendale View Post
    And it shouldn't be. Religious organizations shouldn't get that special treatment.
    Neither should "non-profit" organizations, or businesses that lobby for special treatment, but that is the nature of politicians; to please (reward?) those that support them so long as the voters do not object by not re-electing them.

    80% of the federal income tax code is devoted to deductions, credits, exclusions, exemptions and allowing use of clever accounting schemes to offer "special" treatment of those that lobby our congress critters on behalf of campaign contributors.
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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by Paschendale View Post
    And it shouldn't be. Religious organizations shouldn't get that special treatment.
    You do realize that by taking such things away you will turn Religious organizations and institutions into for-profit groups and likely take away most or their ability to do charity work, correct? Most churches barely break even, nevermind running a profit. Forcing them to pay more would put a large number of them out of business overnight.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Tigger View Post
    You do realize that by taking such things away you will turn Religious organizations and institutions into for-profit groups and likely take away most or their ability to do charity work, correct? Most churches barely break even, nevermind running a profit. Forcing them to pay more would put a large number of them out of business overnight.
    Or more realistically cut expenses.
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    Re: Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

    Quote Originally Posted by Kreton View Post
    Or more realistically cut expenses.
    I don't know how many small-medium size churches you've spent time in over the years, Kreton. I grew up in them, my grandfather was the presiding pastor of one, and I still occasionally spend time in them. Very few of them are able to maintain their current monthly budgets as is. They get by on a yearly basis due to the late year added giving from the ETC (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) members who generally show up in December and do most of their giving at that time. I'm not talking about extravigant churches with 2500 square foot chapels, stained glass in every window, a paid staff numbering in the dozens, and all the trimmings. I'm talking the average congregations. There isn't much for them to cut in most cases.... except maybe the budget for missions work.

    Are you suggesting that churches start charging membership or attendance fees?, because if not I'm not sure how you suggest that most small-medium size churches would be able to stay afloat if they lost their tax exempt status.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by ttwtt78640 View Post
    Indeed a silly law, but also easy to work around, for the most part; simply have the church drop the housing allowance and lease/buy the property directly then allow their clergy to live there rent free. In many cases property owned by/used by a church is also exempted from local property taxation.
    true but a pastor receiving the housing would have to claim the rent value as income. Preachers are subject to income tax, which includes compensation such as use of a Church vehicle for non religious errands, the gas that vehicle uses if the Church provides that. The IRS doesn't go through tax returns that closely but the rules are pretty simple about what counts as income.

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

    From the link in the OP:

    Clergy may exempt from taxable income up to the fair market rental value of their home, a measure particularly helpful to well-heeled pastors, Gaylor said.

    “When you’re dealing with some of these mega-church pastors with huge mansions, they can be paid an enormous amount in housing allowances,” she said.

    On its website, GuideStone, a Christian financial services provider based in Dallas, calls the housing allowance “the most important tax benefit available to ministers.”


    sounds to me like a government subsidy for ministers, which would be a violation of the Constitution. My tax money shouldn't go to support religion, should it?

    While there at it, maybe they could take a look at some of the other exemptions and exclusions that are unfair to the rest of the taxpayers.
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