It's a chink in the political "Ministers deserve special tax treatment" IRS laws.
Here's the article:
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin ruled that the so-called “parish exemption,” which allows religious ministers to avoid paying taxes on the value of their housing granted to them by their religious employers, “violates the establishment clause” of the U.S. Constitution and must be discontinued.The Freedom From Religion Foundation
and its co-presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker have won a significant ruling with far-reaching ramifications declaring unconstitutional the 1954 “parish exemption” uniquely benefiting “ministers of the gospel.”
“May we say hallelujah! This decision agrees with us that Congress may not reward ministers for fighting a ‘godless and anti-religious’ movement by letting them pay less income tax. The rest of us should not pay more because clergy pay less,” Gaylor and Barker commented.
You can read the case here.
FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, INC., ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR and DAN BARKER,
JACOB LEW and DANIEL WERFEL,
Here's the conclusion:
C. Conclusion Although I conclude that § 107(2) violates the establishment clause and must beenjoined, this does not mean that the government is powerless to enact tax exemptions that benefit religion. “[P]olicies providing incidental benefits to religion do not contravene the Establishment Clause.”Interestingly, Timothy Geithner was an original defendent
Capitol Square Review & Advisory Board v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753, 768 (1995) (plurality opinion). In particular, because “[t]he nonsectarian aims of government and the interests of religious groups often overlap,” the government is not “required [to] refrain from implementing reasonable measures to advance legitimate secular goals merely because they would thereby relieve religious groups of costs they would otherwise incur.”
Texas Monthly, 489 U.S. at 10 (plurality opinion). Thus, if Congress believes that there are important secular reasons for granting the exemption in § 107(2), it is free to rewrite the provision in accordance with the principles laid down in Texas Monthly and Walz so that it includes ministers as part of a larger group of beneficiaries. Haller, 728 A.2d at 356 (noting that Texas amended statute at issue in Texas Monthly to grant sales tax exemption to broader range of groups). As it stands now, however, § 107(2) is unconstitutional.
1 Initially, plaintiffs sued Timothy Geithner and Douglas Schulman in their official capacities as Secretary of the Treasury Department and Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d), I have substituted the new Secretary, Jacob Lew, and the Acting Commissioner, Daniel Werfel.This took place yesterday.
4. Defendants are ENJOINED from enforcing § 107(2). The injunction shall take effect at the conclusion of any appeals filed by defendants or the expiration of defendants' deadline for filing an appeal, whichever is later.I remember a Minister from my postcard New England town who lived in a palace-like home with this family for years. He was a really nice person, but he worked for a house of snooty, condescending, holier-than-thou, Mercedes driving people that avoided contact with the towns people at all costs. In short, the 1% crowd.
5. The clerk of court is directed to enter judgment in favor of plaintiffs and close this
Entered this 21st day of November, 2013.
BY THE COURT: s BARBARA B. CRABB District Judge
I kid you not, these old money New England families inherited preferrential seating in this old beautiful stone church. Their names were needle pointed onto the kneelers.
I sat at the Minister's table at a friends wedding decades ago (he sometimes came to our little forest religious community services) and asked him:
Do you have to bite your tongue in order to not anger your flock who pays for your house, etc? Do you ever want to tell them just how much they are missing the mark regarding Jesus teachings?He quit his job shortly thereafter and moved away with his wife who was absolutely devastated by his decision. Maybe it was a coincidence, but he really, really pondered my probably rude questions.
I never forgot him and his courageous decision to give up being a professional tool for a house full of hypocrites.
Today, however, too many Ministers are in it for the money and, to make the really big bucks, are tools for the 1% Koch Cabal. In short, they are political operatives more than ministers.
I hope this new tax law doesn't impoverish the truly humble servants of the Lord.
The rest deserve to pay their fair share. For that matter, there are a lot of churches out there who violate their non-profit status with their political activism.
Perhaps this chink will send a chill.