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View Diary: Fed Court: Ministers now have to pay income tax on their "free housing" (323 comments)

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  •  I'm a parish pastor. I lived in a parsonage for 10 (4+ / 0-)

    years.  I paid income tax on the fair rental value of the house.  I also had my paycheck reduce by the amount of the fair rental value of the house.  
    Most parish pastors are not over paid.  It takes four years of college and four and a half years of grad school to become a pastor in my denomination.  That is very expensive.  And then to be called out to serve in a rural setting where you will be paid less than a teacher who has four fewer years of education and works 3/4 of a year it makes sense to provide housing to someone who would never be able to afford to buy a house.  Pastors do not get raises.  If they are lucky they may get a 2% or 3% cost of living adjustment once every 3 or 4 years. And rental property in rural areas is very hard to come by.  So, for us fools for Christ, providing housing to the pastor is the only way to get a pastor in the hinterlands.

    Government works when you elect those who want it to. --askyron (2013)

    by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:45:10 PM PST

    •  Apparently (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kane in CA

      you've been over-paying the IRS according to previously acceptable practice.

      I think there's room in other sections of the law, as has been discussed several times above, for continuing tax-free housing allowances in some cases.

      If you're expected to be on-call at your house; if you're "called" i.e. sent by your denomination rather than choosing yourself; if providing a house is the only way the church can find lodging for you in a rural area... Several of these things might equate to a real need for your employer to provide housing.

      But it isn't allowed to be a convenience benefit, unless it's taxed.

      Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

      by Phoenix Rising on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:56:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Teachers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simul Iustus et Peccator

      Everything you said and more is true of teachers. Should they not be taxed?

      Jesus said to give all your money to the poor. Teachers don't have that credo. Why should preachers have the protection that teachers don't?

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:07:10 PM PST

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      •  I agree teachers ought to be paid well. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueMajority

        But they are not required to live on the premises, be on-call 24/7, work every holiday.  Teachers get paid for those extra-curricular duties like chaperoning and coaching.  Teachers get a raise every year according to the seniority and education level step chart.  Teachers get 3 months off in the summer and 10 days off at Christmas time and 10 days off during spring break.  I know lots of teachers spend their evenings and weekends grading papers, etc.  True too that teachers are needed out in the hinterlands where it would be impossible to sell a house if/when it is time to move.  Perhaps school districts ought to invest in teacher housing: reduce the teacher paycheck by the value of the housing. That would save the district a lot of money.  And that way they can keep track of the teachers better -- know when they come and go and discuss the teacher's use of electricity at the school board meetings and expect that the teacher hold parent-teacher conferences in the teacher's home on evenings and weekends.

        Government works when you elect those who want it to. --askyron (2013)

        by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:02:48 AM PST

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        •  Tax Breaks for Crappy Jobs (0+ / 0-)

          So being a pastor is a crappy job compared to being a teacher. That should exempt pastors from taxes? How about sewer emergency maintenance workers? Coal miners?

          How about teachers being directly responsible for dozens of other people's children, including constant supervision of their developing minds - minds set by arbitrary and unaccountable parents? Should pastors have a reduction in their tax break because their job doesn't have that crappy part? Boarding school teachers shouldn't be taxed because their residence and on-duty hours are like live-in pastors'?

          No. This whole basis for taxation is even less legit than the current perverse system. Everyone should choose the job whose pay is adequate to the work and workplace. Everyone should pay taxes. If the people want to subsidize some businesses or jobs because they do work the government thereby doesn't have to, that's sensible. But none of these religious exceptions reflect anything except the totally inordinate power that churches have kept despite this country leading the march from Enlightenment to modernity.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:15:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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