Housing Allowance Appeal • FEMA Aid • Church Financial Trends: News Roundup

Church Law & Tax | 10/6/2017 | Staff
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Pastors Appeal Housing Allowance Ruling. “Religious leaders of all faiths are fighting for equal treatment while serving some of the nation’s poorest communities. In Gaylor v. Mnuchin, an atheist-led lawsuit threatens a 64-year-old tax provision that enables pastors, rabbis, imams, and other faith leaders to live in the communities they serve. Represented by Becket, pastors on the South Side of Chicago and other religious leaders today appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, after a ruling last year authorized almost $1 billion in new taxes each year on them and other houses of worship across the country. . . . For over 60 years, the federal tax code has allowed pastors, rabbis, imams, and other faith leaders to receive housing allowances that are not taxed as income—just like military service members, overseas workers, and thousands of other professionals. But in April 2016, the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sued the IRS to deny this treatment to ministers alone. On October 6, 2017, a federal district court ruled that housing allowances for ministers unconstitutionally establishes religion, breaking with nearly 70 years of precedent and threatening ministers with almost $1 billion in new taxes each year” (“Chicago pastors appeal $1 billion in new taxes on churches,” BecketLaw.org).

What if the housing allowance were to go away? This article offers ways churches can prepare.

Budget - Agreement - Includes - FEMA - Provisions

Budget Agreement Includes FEMA Provisions for Churches. “The Bipartisan Budget Agreement . . . includes provisions assuring that houses of worship will be able to receive disaster assistance from FEMA. The Stafford Act, Sec. 42 USC Sec. 5172 allows federal assistance for repair or replacement of non-profit facilities damaged or destroyed by major disasters. However, until a recent policy change by FEMA, houses of worship were excluded. (See prior posting.) The bipartisan budget bill (Sec....
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