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It's a chink in the political "Ministers deserve special tax treatment" IRS laws.

Here's the article:

Breaking: Federal District Court Declares A Religious Income Tax Exemption Unconstitutional

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,
Plaintiffs,

v.
JACOB LEW and DANIEL WERFEL,

OPINION AND ORDER 11-cv-626-bbc Defendants.1

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.”

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.

Interestingly, Timothy Geithner was an original defendent
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.
case.

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 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.

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.

Originally posted to War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (170+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plankbob, greenalley, The Pollster, viral, sfbob, RepackRider, David54, sow hat, hannah, Horace Boothroyd III, tobendaro, johnny wurster, jan4insight, Nailbanger, gchaucer2, sceptical observer, old wobbly, john07801, IndieGuy, middleagedhousewife, Gowrie Gal, thomask, indres, carpunder, concernedamerican, mskitty, davidincleveland, slowbutsure, LynChi, Cassandra Waites, eeff, tapestry, Lujane, Mentatmark, enhydra lutris, kathny, Hastur, dksbook, Chaddiwicker, stormicats, YucatanMan, MyLifeInKenya, BusyinCA, phonegery, DavidMS, SheLawyer, jakedog42, pvasileff, blueoasis, xanthippe2, midnight lurker, Buckeye54, CoolOnion, pitbullgirl65, 1BQ, jayden, Susipsych, rapala, Phoenix Rising, antirove, Mathazar, sawgrass727, celdd, Don Enrique, sulthernao, Lefty Ladig, snacksandpop, MichaelNY, jasan, doingbusinessas, suesue, Anne was here, wader, bill warnick, ichibon, oldpotsmuggler, Sassy, Thinking Fella, stunvegas, maybeeso in michigan, Noodles, annrose, quill, ChemBob, Ray Pensador, bleeding blue, Josiah Bartlett, offgrid, TexDem, KenBee, pcl07, GeorgeXVIII, pat of butter in a sea of grits, BadKitties, psnyder, cosette, flycaster, HiKa, yoduuuh do or do not, Black Mare, riverlover, VTCC73, bbctooman, YellerDog, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, No one gets out alive, Lahdee, Tom Anderson, NapaJulie, Alfred E Newman, Bluefin, Jeff Y, rebel ga, fumie, Sychotic1, Matt Z, Overseas, YaNevaNo, lotlizard, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, HeartlandLiberal, Stripe, jhop7, marina, samoashark, caryltoo, skohayes, Yo Bubba, Burned, dkmich, AllisonInSeattle, Texknight, OleHippieChick, nailbender, Notreadytobenice, msdobie, astral66, Superpole, Betty Pinson, AJ in Camden, VA Breeze, blue jersey mom, GwenM, marleycat, wilderness voice, Bridge Master, political mutt, JDWolverton, wenchacha, spacecadet1, mamamedusa, leeleedee, Carol in San Antonio, allergywoman, NancyWH, AZ Sphinx Moth, VeggiElaine, Rosaura, seefleur, billlaurelMD, blueoregon, Sam Hill, DEMonrat ankle biter, OldDragon, Little Flower, googie, Tinfoil Hat, skrekk, splashy, Sailorben

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:05:59 PM PST

  •  This is a really good thing (47+ / 0-)

    Ministers should not live tax-free. They should pay taxes. If this is upheld on appeal, it will bring in millions in taxes to communities nationwide.

    I wonder what Markos thought when he started this blog? Sure, come for the politics, but stay for the friendship and cat pics!

    by The Pollster on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:19:24 PM PST

    •  Damn it! Now I have to redo everything! (14+ / 0-)

      I was just getting the paperwork together to get into the preachin' business myself, starting with a fund drive for a mega-church that seats 30,000 in plush purple lounge seats and a 60-foot wide LED TV, a house for me in Houston, a house for me in Aspen for my semi-annual spiritual retreats, and a house for me in Bermuda for our bi-monthly Deacon's conferences.

      Now this income tax thing changes everything.  I'll never get rich at this rate. Might as well work for a livin'.

      I can still do it. Just need to seat 50,000 every Sunday. And start a Missionary Fund. That should cover my expenses, and I get a house in Jerusalem out of the deal. This can work.

      Oh wait. Karl Rove is gonna want to wet his beak on this operation, and his boys don't take no for an answer. So that's 10% of gross for Crossroads . . . shit. Back to the drawing board.

      What if I make it 80,000 folding chairs, and lose the house in Aspen?

      Let's see, that's 666, carry the 4, the Church buys the Mercedes, and property tax . . . no no no. I'd better keep my day job for the winter at least.

      Or maybe I'll just run for Congress.

    •  Wow do you not get it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, VClib, Catte Nappe

      The housing exemption is not about ministers being tax-free; in fact, many ministers pay more in taxes than other employees because they are considered self-employed rather than an employee.  This means paying both the employee part of FICA and the employer.  

      In part, many ministers, who have to move from locale to locale were unable to build up the same sort of equity in a home that people could do when staying in one place - and so, this was meant to shield some small part of the benefit package (all of which had to be justified as a true house expense) to make it affordable to live in a home.

      You are vastly mistaken about what this housing-exemption means, so doing some research would be helpful.

      It's like watching an unknown winning a boxing match vs. the world champ and asking him halfway why he didn't knock his opponent out in the first round.

      by bsmcneil on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:18:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see the problem still (0+ / 0-)

        All the church needs to do is charge the minimum rent and then up the preacher's pay accordingly.  (I don't see how a full-time minister is "self-employed" any more than any other full-time-contract employee can be, but that's beside this point.) The minister's rent payment returns to the church as income, and his increased pay is expensed. Yeah, the payroll tax might go up a little--but so then would the benefits in retirement.  Equity in home?  Well, that's what savings are for--even if he doesn't pay rent (and gets paid less) he has to save if he wants a down payment.

        "THERE IS NO JUSTICE. THERE IS JUST US." spoken by Death in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

        by Sailorben on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 12:25:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  OK I see where my thinking fails.. (0+ / 0-)

          After reading much of the discussion I realized I was assuming that this involved church-owned property, and of course it doesn't always these days.  So the rent money wouldn't be returning to the church.  That's a bind, and yes it's tough on little churches and low-paid ministers.  

          My big gripe about taxes isn't this kind of situation, anyway. It's the business interests and income properties that some churches own.  There's a speculation out there that the Catholic Church owns half of Chicago so the rest of the city and its people have to pay double the taxes to cover for it.  I have no idea how much the Church actually owns but it's definitely huge, makes a LOT of money that mostly goes to the Vatican, and leaves that much of the tax burden on everyone else.  Then there are all the other churches and their business interests.  Yes, they do charity; so do others who pay taxes on their business income.

          If they'd just confine tax breaks to the immediate "center of worship" and in some cases, retreats/youth camps, it wouldn't be such a problem and there wouldn't be this level of resentment.  And the little churches and their low-paid ministry wouldn't be getting hit like this.

          I think the core tax breaks are important to give a little leverage to the church/state separation matter. Not that many churches aren't violating that right and left anyway without IRS consequences, the only punishment available. :(

          "THERE IS NO JUSTICE. THERE IS JUST US." spoken by Death in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

          by Sailorben on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 12:55:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I take some exception to your portrait (27+ / 0-)

    of the minister as someone with a lavish parish—more typically these are pretty modest homes. While it's disgusting that there are blue-blood elite types that get to live in tax-free luxurious homes, this may also hurt much more grounded, genuine preachers as well.

    Not to say it was the wrong decision. Churches should have the same rules as other non-profits, and I'm 100% for the separation of church and state. Let's just be clear about the impact of this.

    Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
    Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
    Code Monkey like you!

    Formerly known as Jyrinx.

    by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:19:28 PM PST

    •  Yes, which is why I included (40+ / 0-)

      this statement

      I hope this new tax law doesn't impoverish the truly humble servants of the Lord.
      Still, I am a strong proponent of separation of Church and State, a line that is enormously blurred of late.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:25:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, and thanks for that. (12+ / 0-)

        I guess I just can't get myself to be that happy about the victory over the parish-estates when all the ministers' families I've known have been quite middle-class.

        I think if we want to declare victory over an enemy here, better to go after the Religious Right fuckers that really blur the line between church and state; to me that's worse than merely being decadent tax dodgers. This is a much more unambiguous triumph when seen through that lens.

        Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
        Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
        Code Monkey like you!

        Formerly known as Jyrinx.

        by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:35:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  FTR, the pastor I mention below just scrapes by. (5+ / 0-)

          the family is probably the bottom rung of middle class, if that.

          still, fairness and whatnot (horizontal tax equity, we say in tax policy jargon)

        •  How is paying taxes (38+ / 0-)

          going to hurt them compared to the rest of us who pay the if we have homes? Teachers don't get exemptions from taxes on their homes and they get paid poorly.

          I'd like to see no tax exemption for churches at all, minus the actual charity orgs...and they should get tax breaks if they discriminate.

        •  What? All the welders I've know have been (20+ / 0-)

          quite middle class, or, regrettably, often less. So should they get special treatment. Cabbies, baggage handlers, ditch diggers, agricultural workers too aren't wealthy and proud, and they actually produce goods and services, so what is your point?

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:34:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not saying they should get special treatment. (3+ / 0-)

            I'm just saying they're going to be affected by this. Which is why I have a hard time celebrating it.

            Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
            Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
            Code Monkey like you!

            Formerly known as Jyrinx.

            by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:35:48 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, equal treatment for special people who (10+ / 0-)

              have been receiving special treatment is, I guess, hard to celebrate. I mean, I admit to being a proponent of equality for all, but I know that is a minority view.

              That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

              by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:10:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, FFS. Really? (5+ / 0-)

                Some good people are going to get the short end of the stick here, and I'm not allowed to feel bad about that even as I acknowledge that it's an unfortunate repercussion of the correct ruling and sound policy?

                Do I not get to be on your side unless I remember to be scornful of all the same people you are and cheer no matter what befalls them?

                Again, THIS WAS THE CORRECT OUTCOME.

                Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
                Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
                Code Monkey like you!

                Formerly known as Jyrinx.

                by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:57:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Affected by having special privileges removed? (9+ / 0-)

              Yeah, it's tough being treated just like all the other common folk when you've had a special exemption for '...Well, just because'. Imagine, a minister being no more special than a cab driver. Shocking! Personally, I find it some cause for celebration as equality in action. Both can do good works. Both should be taxed.

              •  Yes, there's cause for celebration. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Word Alchemy, JesseCW

                Just please remember these aren't all televangelists and Rick Warrens being affected negatively by this. In fact, they'll barely notice.

                (Also, taxi services aren't generally nonprofits.)

                Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
                Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
                Code Monkey like you!

                Formerly known as Jyrinx.

                by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:01:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Rick Warren will barely notice. So true. (0+ / 0-)

                  Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                  Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                  by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:21:58 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Non-profit is a horseshit smokescreen 1) (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  War on Error

                  ministers and priests aren't non-profits, they are people, generally wage earners.

                  2) Churches generally aren't non-profits either except for tax purposes and even there they get special treatment and special dispensation. Various churches have amassed enormous wealth. They make huge economic and/or accounting profits, simply not tax profits, allegedly because they are prophets, but that is irrational nonsense.

                  That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                  by enhydra lutris on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:19:09 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Someone taught me in my youth (0+ / 0-)

                    go get yourself a non-profit

                    It's a license to make money and keep it.

                    No kidding.

                    I've been reading 990 tax returns for non-religious non-profits like the Walton Foundation.

                    These non-profits make a ton of money from investing each year.  The Walton Foundation makes interest loaning money out to build Charter School buildings, for example.

                    The IRS tax code isn't broken, it's working perfectly well for the 1%

                    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                    by War on Error on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 12:31:07 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  welders, cabbies, baggage handlers, ditch diggers (0+ / 0-)

            and agricultural workers do not get special protection in the Constitution

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:21:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nor are they subject to special restrictions - (0+ / 0-)

              read the establishment clause closely. Religions (not churches or ministers) cannot be discriminated against, but also cannot be favored.

              That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

              by enhydra lutris on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:22:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  ok (0+ / 0-)

                but the idea is that someone decided that churches should not be subject to taxation as part of keeping them separate from governmental functions

                therefore church property is not taxed, and when churches owned parsonages and rectories they were not taxed.

                my church does not have a parsonage, so you are saying that means that my housing should be taxed, even though Joe Blow whose church does have a parsonage can live there without having his housing taxed?

                and that is fair?

                i understand you dislike churches and ministers.  at this point i am talking about the difference in treatment between churches and the other professions you listed, who never had any law exempting their employers from property taxes

                Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:42:13 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You appear to be talking about property taxes (0+ / 0-)

                  which are irrelevant and not at issue. This case subjects to Federal Income Taxes the value of a parsonage allowance paid to a minister, just like the remuneration paid to the lay peasantry is subject to income taxes. Because only such allowances were at issue, the case does nto address the value of on site parsonages.

                  A carpenter, plumber, janitor or whatever could work for a church, with its property tax exemption, just like a minister does. Being mere hoi polloi, they would be subject to tax on any and all remuneration for so doing. Section 107 treated ministers as a specialclass of persons, above the hoi polloi who were exempted from tax on some of their earnings solely becasue they were ministers and not mere peasantry. That violates the establishment clause.

                  That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                  by enhydra lutris on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:48:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  the reason the income taxes are exempt (0+ / 0-)

                    is because ministers used to live on church owned property that was exempt from taxation.

                    now many do not.

                    but instead of punishing the ministerial employee for the fact that the church does not own a home for him/her to live in, the IRS still allows clergy rent to be tax free

                    it's not just because they work for the church, or are some special higher class of person.

                    i am not confused about property taxes and income taxes.  it was standard for centuries for clergy to live tax free on church owned property.  now the income they get for their housing is tax exempt to make up for the fact that so few churches have rectories or parsonages these days.

                    it was much rarer for the sexton/carpenter/plumber/janitor to live on church property.  that's why their housing income is not exempt from taxes now.

                    it has nothing to do with hoi polloi, and in fact the lion's share of ministers I know qualify as hoi polloi under most definitions of that term

                    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:40:21 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

                      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                      by enhydra lutris on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 09:04:45 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  how is it wrong, exactly? (0+ / 0-)

                        i am certain of my facts.  are you disagreeing with my opinion (about the hoi polloi)?

                        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 09:37:03 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Property taxes are imposed or not (some states (0+ / 0-)

                          lack them) by states and their political subdivisions. Whether any state has such a tax, whether it provides any exemptions, and whether those exemptions do or do not include some or all of the property owned by churches has nothing to do with the FEDERAL income taxation of the fair rental value of parsonages or the amount of parsonage allowances.

                          Congress, in its infinite wisdom, decided to exclude from the income of "ministers" both the value of parsonages used rent free and the amount of parsonage allowances. Section 107 granted both exemptions.

                          26 USC § 107 - Rental value of parsonages

                              In the case of a minister of the gospel, gross income does not include—
                              (1) the rental value of a home furnished to him as part of his compensation; or
                              (2) the rental allowance paid to him as part of his compensation, to the extent used by him to rent or provide a home and to the extent such allowance does not exceed the fair rental value of the home, including furnishings and appurtenances such as a garage, plus the cost of utilities.

                          I finally broke down, after all these years, and posted the actual text of 107, 170 and 501(c)(3), which you may refer to opr not as you see fit, here

                          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                          by enhydra lutris on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 11:31:27 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  it seems we agree with each other (0+ / 0-)

                            i am aware of everything you posted.

                            i am talking about the historical reason for parsonage allowances.

                            you feel the exemption is unfair and unnecessary, but otherwise we are talking about the same thing

                            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 06:31:03 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  thanks for the linked diary. i did read it. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            enhydra lutris

                            especially where you say that you do not care about the reason for the exemption, which is what I was talking about

                            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                            by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 06:34:00 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The reason cannot ever be known. You read the (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            TrueBlueMajority

                            prefacatory portion of a bill or act and it says all wonder ful groovy stuff. You read the committee reports and it says different groovy stuff. You read the floor debate and it is entirely different. Meanwhile, if you get to the bottom there was horse trading and a ton of lobbying.  There is no way to ever know why Congress did anything.

                            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                            by enhydra lutris on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 09:06:50 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

        •  Well, you'll notice that the excess/opulence... (0+ / 0-)

          ...is usually found in either nondenominational churches (which are wholly independent) or churches affiliated with denominations/traditions in which there is no hierarchy and few means of denominational control over individual churches (e.g. Baptist, Pentecostal, et al.).  In some cases, individual evangelists/preachers have simply founded their own denominations (e.g. Aimee Semple McPherson and the Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God).

          It's also common to see prominent pastors/evangelists move beyond the theology of the denomination in which they were raised or ordained.  For instance, Billy Graham was ordained as a Southern Baptist, but wound up espousing inclusivism (i.e. paths to God other than that of Jesus Christ), which is anathema to orthodox Baptists; in the same vein, Pat Robertson's charismatic practices are well outside his original Southern Baptist ordination.

          Many of the "big-time televangelists" are completely nondenominational, including Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and John Hagee.

          You can't really throw all churches/pastors into one bucket; the folks you see on television aren't really all that close (in terms of theology, finances or governance) to your local congregations.  

          The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

          by wesmorgan1 on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:54:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  If not overturned in the appeal process (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe

          I think you could see Congress pass legislation allowing for the first, maybe $10,000 a year of housing allowance being not taxable. My own personal view is that the case will be overturned.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 12:42:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it certainly won't impoverish (37+ / 0-)

        ...truly humble atheists who do good works for their communities, because they already pay taxes on their incomes.

        If charitable organizations were offering atheist do-gooders free housing, your statement might have merit.

        The housing tax exemption allowed religious organizations to pay less than a living wage.   Sort of like Wal-Mart..

        Orwell was an optimist.
        My Home Page

        by RepackRider on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:42:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, (12+ / 0-)

        For my minister, and the many who receive a truly modest salary in exchange for his family's housing here in the Bay Area, it probably will.

        Hell, for my cousins who preach in the south, it probably will, too.

        •  but why do they deserve tax free housing (20+ / 0-)

          when the rest of us don't?  If they are making little money, they will pay little taxes.  They are probably still exempt from paying property taxes which the rest of us pay for them.  (We pay more so they can pay nothing.)

          As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

          by BPARTR on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:58:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Many will have to pay more than "little taxes" (5+ / 0-)

            If their cash pay is $1000/mo; but the market value of the house they are allowed use of is $150,000; they may have to use a signiificant amount of limited cash income to pay taxes on a relatively modest home.

            “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

            by Catte Nappe on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:10:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Wild accusation. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WineRev

            "They are probably still exempt from paying property taxes"

            Not. Utterly false.

            "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

            by ogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:31:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Care to explain (6+ / 0-)

              Why that is a wild accusation and utterly false?

              An exemption from property taxes for church-owned property is extremely common.

              "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

              by Old Left Good Left on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:43:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Pastors pay property tax when they own their (0+ / 0-)

                homes.  I think that's what ogre meant.

                •  But Most Pastors IME (0+ / 0-)

                  Don't.  

                  •  The quote, AGAIN... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    shanikka
                    They are probably still exempt from paying property taxes...
                    And that wasn't about churches. It was about clergy.

                    It was an accusation based in pure, hostile ignorance. And it wouldn't have taken more than a couple minutes to verify it online. It's the kind of behavior I'd expect on Redstate. Here? Well, there was this idea that we were rather attached to the idea of facts and reason.

                    But maybe that evaporated over the past six months or so while I've been really busy.

                    MY property taxes haven't been lifted by a cent by becoming clergy.

                    And at least in my tradition, many of the churches make a point of making an in lieu of taxes payment to the municipal government whose services they use. Taxation is a device that can be -- has been, is -- used to suppress some activities. Which is why churches are tax exempt (separation of church and state), as long as they opt in to that status -- in return for which they give up partisan political activities (those are the rules -- they are free to take up issues, but cannot support parties or candidates).

                    It's frustrating and distressing to watch people on the left indulge their (our) frustration with the abusers by just going after everyone who is associated with them even vaguely.

                    Burning the forest to get at the poison oak.

                    "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

                    by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:11:20 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually... Most do. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    JesseCW, TrueBlueMajority

                    With the decline in church membership and the recession, many congregations have sold or repurposed their parsonages. It is considered a boon to be called to a congregation with housing.

                    However,  many churches make up for it with a housing allowance separate from income. This has been tax-exempt, saving both the church and the minister money.

                    "Do not believe in any thought that dehumanizes you." - James H. Cone

                    by Word Alchemy on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:13:22 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  There's a fundamental misunderstanding here. (5+ / 0-)

            A number of people seem to have the impression that I disagree with the ruling. I don't, and (at least in this subthread) no-one seems to. I just don't think first about the rich megachurches being impacted by this, I think about families I've known.

            So I still agree, but my agreement is more sober than some.

            Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
            Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
            Code Monkey like you!

            Formerly known as Jyrinx.

            by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:41:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This could be a good thing (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              War on Error, fumie, JesseCW

              For a Minister with a family who makes on the low end of the pay scale.

              A minister, wife and 2 kids with a pay of 1500 per month would have pay of 18k a year.

              If they now have to add in fair market rent value to earned income, say 1k per month, that would raise income to 30k a year.

              BUT WAIT!! for a family of 4 that 30k is a write off with standard deductions and personal exemptions.

              And the real good news?

              The addition of the housing income will bring the family up near the max of earned income credit.

              A lower income minister and his/her family may come out ahead.

              •  Time for churches (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BPARTR, J Rae

                to pay a living wage then, just like Wal-Mart, which at least provides some tangible benefits to its, errrrr, parishioners.

                Salvation inside, new lower prices everyday!

                •  You do grasp the difference, I hope... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TrueBlueMajority, J Rae

                  between a global megacorp that makes billions upon billions in profits every year, and tiny institutions that are sustained largely on the donations of people who choose to donate what they can.

                  And as for benefits to... errr...

                  We're the people who folks that are organizing against the death penalty come to, looking for support and public voices that will get listened to. Just a for example. And the place that families that are down and out come to find some access to warm clothing and food and housing (only some of which we can provide--because funds are desperately short--but we provide them assistance in finding the public (and non-public) resources that can help them, that they are incapable (based on the evidence and experience...) of finding and navigating on their own.

                  And so on.

                  "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

                  by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:17:05 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You mean, the difference between a transnational (0+ / 0-)

                    megacorp like the Roman Catholic Church and a transnational megacorp like Wal-Mart?

                    Yes.  One is at least notionally subject to taxation.

                    What you do is try to earn a living.  You tell fairy tales and people give you a check for it.

                    There's nothing wrong with that.  Storytellers should be free to find a paying audience.

                    But it's just another business activity at the end of the day.

                    "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

                    by JesseCW on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:15:22 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Faulty assumption (0+ / 0-)

                      Fairy tales?

                      That might be a fair (harsh, but fair) critique for some traditions.

                      But not for others.

                      Not mine. If I tried to teach or preach the traditional magical stories (or other magical stories) about Jesus or some other figure, my congregation would revolt and run me out on a rail.

                      Many of them are Atheists and Humanists.

                      You're projecting a single story onto all religion, and a simplistic understanding of it, as well.

                      "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

                      by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:52:15 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

              •  You Have that Backward (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ogre, TrueBlueMajority

                More income means less EIC.  At 30K, a family is beginning to get close to being disqualified completely from receiving it.

            •  If they don't earn much, they may be exempt anyway (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              War on Error

              If they are not far above the poverty limit they may not be liable to pay like many poor families. Or perhaps the taxes will come out of the community church coffers where they all pay it.

              •  Ad the additional income will make them eligible (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gffish

                For Obamacare, right?

                This will help ministers in the red states refusing the Medicaid expansion, which they would qualify for if they are really paid $1,500 a month.

                I imagine Joel Olsteen has a prosperity plan in place for impoverished ministers families.

                Do you know that the Mormon clergy are all volunteers, given no pay at all, except for the really big wigs, most of whom are quite wealthy anyway? 30ish people volunteer to keep each church and Sunday school programs up and running.

                It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

                by War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:49:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Volunteers aren't taxed. But the church gets $ (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm not very familiar with non-profit organizations but I expect some get tax breaks. If so, a truly non profit church can get the same. But if I pay money to be part of a non religious group which makes enough to own buildings and pay salaries and so forth, I would expect that organization will be taxed somewhat. Those salaried employees are taxed and if we are housing them I'd expect that property to be taxable etc. And some churches do own businesses which do turn a profit or own valuable real estate which isn't taxed. Is that fair?

                  Why should religions not be taxed other than they are groups of people who believe in entities which can't even be demonstrated to exist? Can someone define their non profit group to be declared sacred because they hold a belief in something to become exempt? Why can't secular positions be declared sacred if you don't need to demonstrate that the beliefs in those positions are based on something that cannot be demonstrated as real?

              •  what are community church coffers? (0+ / 0-)

                Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:31:35 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, some go into the ministry for the money (6+ / 0-)

            Let's not ignore that other side of it. We are talking many billions of dollars a year in lost tax revenues from mega churches and all their side businesses. I wonder how much 10 years of tax collection from them would ease the deficit?

          •  Why (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Word Alchemy, TrueBlueMajority

            Do you worry about what you are not getting? Do you believe that you are lessened, somehow?  That's the same reasoning that begrudges poor people food stamps--heaven help us that someone else is getting what you aren't.

            Most true ministers of the gospel, as opposed to the many hucksters admittedly out there, live a life of simplicity and poverty that depends upon the voluntary contributions of their congregants.  Arguably for a public (I.e. the larger good) purpose. That it's a purpose you don't believe in should not be the only salient factor in deciding what happens.  IMO, of course.

            The folks who brought this suit may have felt vindicated but IMO it was mean spirited.  Because it did nothing more than prove a political point, at the expense of many good people who did nothing to them personally.

            All IMO and YMMV of course.

            •  If they're living a life of poverty, odds are (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KathleenM1

              good they still won't be paying taxes on the value of their rent.

              Treating them differently under the law is abhorrent to anyone who truly values the separation of church and state.  You have argued  

              Arguably for a public (I.e. the larger good) purpose.
              that religion is a public good that should be actively encouraged by treatment preferable to any other non-profit.

              That's a simple and forthright rejection of the basic concept of religious freedom, and it is odious.

              But, at least and at last, it was honest.  You disagree with the decision because you disagree with the right of others to be free from promoting your religious beliefs.

              "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

              by JesseCW on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:21:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  what does this mean? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shanikka
                If they're living a life of poverty, odds are good they still won't be paying taxes on the value of their rent.
                i see this argument being made elsewhere and I do not understand it

                Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:32:53 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Then the church needs to pay him a bit more (15+ / 0-)

          so that he can afford to pay the taxes on the in-kind salary equivalent he gets by way of housing.

          Churches look at housing as a freebie. They own the property outright, so putting the minister up in the house is a non-expense to them.

          But under the law, if I pay the rent for someone, they have to declare it. This ruling essentially makes that rent visible as "income".

          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 06:06:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Any church which is unwilling to hold an annual (6+ / 0-)

          fundraiser to cover their minister's new taxes should ask themselves if they truly believe their founder when he said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's..." [Mark 12:17].

          We-The-People are Caesar in this land. Churches should consider themselves very fortunate in avoiding property taxes, considering the amount of municipal services they all consume. The dodge by church governing bodies to make part of their minister's salary a (till now) non-taxed benefit has always struck me as a further perversion of a church's non-tax status, which itself is unconstitutional.

          Such churches should heed "The laborer is worthy of his hire." [Deuteronomy 24:14, I Timothy 5:18, Luke 10:7] A church which forces its minister to accept their housing as part of his salary is engaging in doctrinally questionable behavior.

          Full disclosure: I'm not only a PK, I'm the child of missionaries and was partly raised on my parents' mission station in Liberia. Although I'm now an atheist I still endorse what I consider the good stuff in the Bible, even the few good parts of Paul's books.

          Enough fossil fuel remains on Earth to warm it 6 degrees C by 2100 AD if it is all used. A +6 C planet will only sustain half a billion humans. Human population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. Any questions?

          by davidincleveland on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:45:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  my folks can barely afford to pay me as it is (0+ / 0-)

            a fundraiser to pay my taxes is a nonstarter

            a lot of them are on fixed incomes, and elderly, and working class

            meanwhile Kenneth Copeland isn't going to feel a thing

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:36:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I assumed it was clear I was talking about the tax (0+ / 0-)

              on a previously untaxed part of the minister's salary. Assuming you would qualify because your job salary includes untaxed housing, I am not suggesting that your job pay all your taxes. I am only suggesting that your job pay those new taxes you are suddenly faced with paying, due to a re-interpretation of the religious property tax exemption.

              I am not unsympathetic about the plight of caregivers, whether physical or spiritual, who struggle to make ends meet because of their chosen profession; my father worked as a porter and also maintained a truck farm (pre WWII) because his congregation couldn't afford a salary. Father had an interesting thing to say to his oldest son (the author of that book) about the farm and his neighbors [p 48, 4th para], who were mostly elderly, all domestic working class, and invariably quite poor.

              Enough fossil fuel remains on Earth to warm it 6 degrees C by 2100 AD if it is all used. A +6 C planet will only sustain half a billion humans. Human population will rise to 9 billion by 2050. Any questions?

              by davidincleveland on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 10:20:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Too bad (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, KathleenM1

          What part of "no special treatment just because you say you work for Jesus" is so hard to understand.

          I guess if this impoverishes a few priests and ministers, they'll have to get a real job like everyone else, won't they?

          People of faith do not do better things than others. They don't contribute more to society. They are only morally superior to others by their own assertion.  Drop the sentimental image of the humble man of god. He doesn't exist, or if he does he no more represents a higher law than an atheist community activist.

          Poor widdle priesties gonna have to get a job.

          •  What Part of (4+ / 0-)

            Just because you hate religion you shouldn't impose your hatred on others who did nothing wrong to you or anyone else, and live simple lives, part don't you understand?

            Impoverishes "a few."  You clearly don't know many ministers.  Just to prove a political point, atheists decided that it was perfectly OK to cause financial hardship on folks they don't know and don't want to know who do nothing but good.  With the response when someone expresses concern about that harm not anything in mitigation (i.e. yes, I needed to prove my point, now let's see how we can nonetheless allow you to live and continue to do good works which, while I personally could care less about them, I must acknowledge most of you do) "too bad!".

            I appreciate your right to have an opinion different than mine.  Should my response to you about knee-jerk reactions to atheisms be as insensitive as yours was on this issue ("Too bad")? I personally think not.  

            But perhaps because that was because I was raised in the church, have benefitted from the role of religion in my life, and have family who preach the gospel today.  In other words, I was raised right and know how rude such a callous response is.

            /shrug

          •  Housing allowance (3+ / 0-)

            codified the fact that many churches themselves were impoverished and could not afford a cash salary high enough to pay a pastor a living wage.
            (Indeed many a pastor lived on his own vegetable garden, chickens, donation to him of 3 sacks of salt, 40 lbs. of potatoes and 6 sacks of flour, with hardly any cash spending money at all.)

            In many denominations by mid-20th century, the pattern was clergy salary + housing in the parish manse. Clergy serving various parishes would spend their careers earning less than many similarly educated peers. Then, since their Social Security and pension payments were based on a % of their lifetime earnings, they would continue this pattern until death.

            (BTW, in the comments up to this point, NO ONE has noted that federal law REQUIRES congregations to treat clergy as independent contractors and by LAW are prohibited from paying FICA? (Social Security/Medicare/Disability) ALL clergy are required BY LAW to pay BOTH ENDS of FICA. So instead of the 7.65%, clergy have paid 15.3%, and YES that includes HOUSING ALLOWANCE.
                 So ALL clergy pay INCOME TAX like everyone else and DOUBLE FICA TAX (like only retired military officers do--a very weird combo, I know, but that is the law.)
                 But facts like these are perhaps not welcome?)

            Starting mid-century, with the sharp rise in homeownership for the middle class, the clergy noted at various assemblies, etc. that many of their parishoners upon or near retirement would sell that largest house they ever owned (the kids are grown and gone), move to the Sunbelt and buy a smaller place at a sharply lower price, and have the difference as something of a nest egg for support in retirement.
            (As clergy for decades I attended many a pre-retirement seminar for clergy. The metaphor always used was "the 3-legged stool" for retirement income: Social Security, pension, and net proceeds from downsizing housing.)

            The 3rd of these was not available to clergy living their entire careers in parish housing, so beginning in the 1950s there was a strong trend toward providing larger clergy salaries and (using the 1954 ruling noted in the dairy) then designating every year (in advance, per IRS rule) how much of this would be housing allowance IN LIEU OF parish housing.
                   This allowed clergy to buy their own houses and follow the path of wealth building rather like their parishoners when retiring. These houses are private property and so clergy PAY PROPERTY TAX, FIRE INSURANCE, CITY WATER, SEWER, STREET REPAIR ASSESSMENTS etc. on their own homes JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

            By the mid-1980s about 80% of congregations paid housing allowance to clergy rather than providing a house. There were/are 2 exceptions:
            1. Rural Congregations.
            My friend Steve did ministry in Malta, Montana. Heard of it? Cattle outnumber people in Phillips County by a ratio of 15 to 1.
                  If you move there as clergy, you can indeed buy a house for your housing, and at rather a good price since, for instance, in February, you personally shopping for a house may be the ENTIRE buying market. People live there, are born there, grow up there and stay there.
                  So, after several years (the clergy average is 7) if Steve wants to move, he has to sell his house.
            To whom?
            Got it paid off yet Steve? No? Looking forward to house payments here in Malta and house payments in your new location? DOUBLE HOUSE COSTS?
                  For this reason, many rural congregations have kept their clergy house/manse. As they often date from the days of larger families it is not unusual for a solo clergy person to be living in a 2-story, 5 bedroom place. OTOH the next clergy with 4 kids might find it a godsend.
                 (All maintenance and repair is from the congregation---and there are horror stories by the bushel of trying to get walls patched, furnaces working, 1917 knob-and-tube wiring upgraded. Besides all that, if clergy choose to CHANGE THE LOCKS on the doors, this is generally seen as a hostile act by the congregation, since now EVERYONE's KEY will no longer work on THEIR house.
            After all, the members of the altar guild need to drop in unannounced to see how nicely you dust THEIR house...
            AND THEY DO, make no mistake!)

            2. Urban congregations in high-cost cities have usually kept and own their clergy housing.

            Mid-town Manhattan, San Francisco, Washington DC, etc. You know who you are. While clergy salaries are typically the highest in such denominations, as many of you know so are living costs, with housing costs astronomical. Could Trinity Lutheran in Tribeca, not far from the Twin Towers site, afford to pay its clergy a Manhattan living salary PLUS enough more in housing allowance to allow the pastor to live 6 blocks from the church? Really? You think so?
                   So yes, there are certain parish houses in such settings that WERE built (often like the church itself) in the 19th or early 20th century and have been kept up. For the time they were often considered modest or ordinary, but we now, decades later consider these well preserved beauties luxurious.

            So there's a little more of where clergy housing came from over the last 100 years.

            If you now want to continue reveling over the hardship this ruling will impose across the country (if upheld on appeal) upon thousands of clergy (hardly ANY of whom are pedophiles---yes there are a few---, hardly ANY of whom have mega churches---yes there are a few who can have their faces on the air, much to the embarrassment of everyone else who can NOT so afford)...
            and if you want to revel over hundreds of congregations that may close as a result of this, whose clergy and leaders stay up nights wondering how to feed the hungry when SNAP is throwing more people on the church food shelf operation, how to clothe the naked when WalMart pays crap wages, or just how many MORE people the church basement can accommodate as temporary shelter for evicted families,

            well

            please proceed, atheists.

            Shalom.

            "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

            by WineRev on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:23:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  i knew you would rock this question WineRev (0+ / 0-)

              wish this were a separate diary

              now back to figuring out how I am going to get more turkeys for our Wednesday night dinner since we expect lots of extra homeless and hungry people on the day before Thanksgiving ♥

              Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
              Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

              by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:39:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  This will be appealed (10+ / 0-)

        This ruling is at the trial level, which is important, but this case will clearly go to the Court of Appeals and if this ruling is upheld will go to the Supreme Court. I think the Court of Appeals will stay the ruling so that the pastors won't have to start paying the taxes until this issue is adjudicated.

        At first blush I do not think this ruling will stand under appeal, but that's just my opinion before I have read any of the briefs or the judges ruling.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:15:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  WoE - regarding your comment about the (4+ / 0-)

        political activity of churches and their tax exempt status. Churches have very broad latitude under the tax code to be involved in political activity as long as it does not represent more than 20% of their total budget and they don't endorse candidates by name. Churches have been deeply involved in US politics from its inception. In more recent times churches provided the leadership, organization, facilities, administrative support and the funding for the civil rights movement. If churches were prohibited from political activity, there would have been no organized civil rights movement. Churches can contribute to ballot initiatives, referendums and proposed constitutional amendments, particularly those that deal with ethical or moral issues that are part of the churches beliefs. None of this activity violates any IRS code or puts churches at any risk of losing their tax exempt status or the tax deductibility of donations received by the church.

        No one has to agree with the current IRS rules, and Congress can change them, but that's the current tax law.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:16:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Truly humble servants of The Lord (0+ / 0-)

        can pay taxes on their income (in kind included) just like truly humble atheists of modesty means.

        That's the meaning of true humility... No special treatment for you. A priest no more deserves to be comfortable than a homeless vet or a nurse.

        •  Fair's fair then? (0+ / 0-)

          You're going to start paying the employer's share of FICA out of your pocket?

          Because that's one of the downsides of being clergy; IRS rules (and the law) are screwy. Period. Yes, clergy got a break on the taxability of a portion of their income designated for housing. AND they GET double dinged for FICA.

          No complaints there?

          "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

          by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:24:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  i imagine it won't affect (0+ / 0-)

        church provided housing, such as a rectory or abbey,
        but, it could be a taxable item, in which case,
        there has to be some value placed on it.

        probably the fair market value, but, it could be offset
        against quality.  a small apartment attached to a
        church is probably far less valuable then a 3 bedroom
        home in town and far less valuable then the Oral Roberts
        mansion.

        •  people who live in church provided housing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          patbahn

          do not get the housing allowance tax exemption (as the law stands now)

          if your church does NOT provide a place for you to live, but gives you a housing allowance instead, the amount of the housing allowance is exempt from taxes.

          Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
          Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:01:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  well, it will impoverish us (0+ / 0-)

        i already have a hard enough time saving up enough to pay my income taxes (nothing is withheld from my pay) and both halves of the FICA tax.

        In the old days when free housing was provided because the church owned a parsonage or rectory, I would have received a small salary and the free place to live.

        Now my salary is increased enough to be able to afford to pay for a place to live and in return I do not have to pay taxes on that portion of my salary.

        People cheering this decision act as though all ministers live high on the hog like the ones they see on TV and the more flamboyant ones they may remember from successful local ministry.  We all have a story to tell about the flashy minister who drive a cadillac while his poor parishioners scraped together money for the collection.

        But the vast majority of people in ministry, including me, are not living extravagant lives, and this decision if it is upheld will make things very hard for us.

        so keep cheering if you must.  this decision will hurt the very people who are most often on the side of social justice, while the Christian in name only mega millionaire fakers will not feel much of a hit.   If they have to pay extra taxes, they can afford it.  They'll just buy one fewer car or plane.  I have no car.  My winter coat has holes in it.  My winter boots are too tight but I wear them because this isn't a good time to buy a new pair.

        i am hoping that somewhere along the way someone who is not a naked ministry-basher figures this out and puts some kind of an income ceiling/floor into the law.  If you exempt everyone making under $50K a year, that would be a good start.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:10:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed (7+ / 0-)

      It may well be a correct decision, but would still be painful for a lot of decent people, and I find the insinuation that a typical minister is living high on the hog off the taxpayers' backs to be dishonest and unnecessary rhetoric.  My uncle was an Episcopal priest before retirement.  They never had any money.

      •  Nobody said what you claim, nor insinuated it, (6+ / 0-)

        but it is a moot point anyway. Who gives a shit about their standard beyond their parishoners? They chose that career and that group of clientele, it is/was their call from day one.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:37:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Precisely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          enhydra lutris

          For a lot of Americans living rent free in exchange for a few hours of chanting gibberish  a week would be "living high on the hog" even with no salary at all.

          Priests are not better people than you or I. They just say they are.

          •  Sad to see someone pontificate from (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TrueBlueMajority, Catte Nappe

            such ignorance.

            Most clergy work 60+ hours a week. 24/7, pretty much, on call.

            Not the loathed televangelists, but let's set aside the folks who are just abusers from the get-go and focus on the 99.99%.

            Called at 3 am to go to the hospital to be with a family who've just had a kid in a serious auto-accident. And to help them navigate the systems while they're in shock. And to deal with all the emotional trauma. And to decide if--and when--to pull the plug. And still need to show up for the 10 am meeting with the local government to weigh in on why the laws they want to pass that will abuse the local homeless population are terrible and wrong. Again. And Again. Then go help some nearly homeless veterans who are screwed up and screwed over, and need help, and don't trust most people, and not the government. Back for vague institutional meetings that keep things running (institutions being what institutions are). Meeting with the couple who wants to get married -- and aren't members of the church, but you're expected to provide the service because they like your old, quaint building. And you have to decide if they're "ok" as a couple, as in is one of them an abuser? Is someone an addict? Because clergy try to discourage people who are making bad decisions (or good decisions in the wrong way at the wrong time). And a kid who grew up in the congregation wants to come talk about refusing to sign up for the Selective Service because he's a dedicated pacifist and....

            And. And. And.

            And that's before you get the call asking is you can do a memorial service for a family that's got no connection with the congregation, but their brilliant 18 year old committed suicide, and there are several hundred family, friends, classmates... who are bereft and devastated and need some kind of help and handholding.

            Read up on some data and statistics on what the "high on the hog" life really consists of, and what it tends to do to those who take it on.

            You're clueless.

            There are good reasons that people like my mentor give the advice that if there is anything else you think you can do with your life that would be fulfilling, do that. Enter the clergy only because you must, because that is what you really have to do.

            Sure, there are abuses. Target the abuses and abusers. But most of what we spend our days and evenings and weekends doing is extremely low profile. You'd only know what you were talking about if you actually educated yourself, rather than just indulged in an opinion that you like, a la Redstate.

            "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

            by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:38:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  yesterday, on what was supposed to be my day off (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe, ogre

              i spent hours trying to get help for a parishioner dealing with a domestic violence situation

              if there is anything else you think you can do with your life that would be fulfilling, do that. Enter the clergy only because you must, because that is what you really have to do.
              i was not told this, but I tell it to everyone who asks me about life in ministry

              Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
              Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

              by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:04:35 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  we were just joking about this the other day (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe

            people think we work one day a week, or just a couple of hours a week

            i'd be LMFAO if it weren't so misinformed

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:02:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  even if the homes are modest, they are free (11+ / 0-)

      lodging in an era of so many homeless.  Also many ministers get perks such as "suit" allowances, utilities paid by their churches, a car allowance and many of the same perks enjoyed by the CEOs of mid tier companies.  

      •  Some do. Probably not most. n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kayak58, Egghead, oslyn7
      •  Nope. (5+ / 0-)

        Not many.

        I've never met one. And I've met a lot of them, since I am one.

        No suit allowance. Not even a t-shirt allowance. For myself or anyone else that I've heard of. Nor car allowances, etc., etc.

        "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

        by ogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:36:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  my late father in law had such an arrangement (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes

          and my brother is currently in hot water with IRS over his deducting his suits as a necessary professional expense.
          Here is a list of allowances various churches have been known to provide to ministers:
          https://www.startchurch.com/...
          Please note a clothing allowance is mentioned:

              Car allowance
              Water bill
              Cell phone
              Heating bill
              Home phone
              Clothing bill
              Insurance
              Personal expense fund
              Gasoline
              Pastor's aide
              Light bill
              Gifts

          •  "In hot water" (0+ / 0-)

            "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

            by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:39:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Further (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe

            It's important to give quotations in complete context.

            Here's what yours should have been.

            With the exception of the housing allowance, there is no other section in the IRS code that allows churches to pay the minister any type of allowance to cover personal expenses and it be tax free. Below are some examples of allowances that churches pay to ministers.

            Car allowance
            Water bill
            Cell phone
            Heating bill
            Home phone
            Clothing bill
            Insurance
            Personal expense fund
            Gasoline
            Pastor's aide
            Light bill
            Gifts

            Income tax regulations require that any and all money given to the pastor be reported as income unless certain requirements are met.

            So people have been paid for those things. And they've probably really had to claim them as income. Unless specific hurdles could be cleared.

            Like the cell phone -- the one that has a number for parishioners to call 24/7 with pastoral emergencies. Whatever they think one of those is. That gets used almost exclusively for that, and to return such calls, or for other church related business.

            The IDEA that such a thing might be paid for by the church--shocking. The IDEA that it might even be tax deductible and not an item of income--also shocking.

            So they are things that might be paid and not income. But far from a given, and you'd better be able to prove it. And no, suits don't count, because they're clothing one could wear elsewhere, too, for secular purposes at secular events. And you likely do.

            But not, say, a liturgical stole. Different story.

            "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

            by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:59:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  from your own linked article (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe
            Under the law, these allowances are 100% taxable and must be reported in the minister's W-2 form as income.  With the exception of the housing allowance, there is no other section in the IRS code that allows churches to pay the minister any type of allowance to cover personal expenses and it be tax free.

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:13:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Well, it's only the homes that are at issue here. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        josephk

        And that's kinda my point: Ministers that get more perks than just a perish are precisely the ones from crazy-rich churches. If this were about the car and suit allowances ending, then maybe I could get my class warrior on and cheer without reservation. But the perish is common to many rich and poor churches alike.

        Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
        Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
        Code Monkey like you!

        Formerly known as Jyrinx.

        by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:45:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What other non-profits get parsonage exemption? (0+ / 0-)

          in Your comment that started this thread - You said:

          ... , this may also hurt much more grounded, genuine preachers as well.

          Not to say it was the wrong decision. Churches should have the same rules as other non-profits,

          FFRF was suing for exactly that - fair treatment irrespective of the type of non-profit.

          "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

          by josephk on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:43:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly my point. (0+ / 0-)

            I agree with the ruling.

            Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
            Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
            Code Monkey like you!

            Formerly known as Jyrinx.

            by Code Monkey on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:52:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not really. (0+ / 0-)

            Not that I even disagree with the ruling (in the narrowest sense).

            But when clergy are treated like other employees for other purposes, too, then this would make more sense. This narrowly targeted one of the benefits, but didn't "ask for" (or ask for the ending of) things like clergy having to pay FICA twice -- their share and the employer's share.

            Fair is an overall assessment, and is different from identical. You can do one, or the other. But this didn't seek to do either; it demanded identical on a very narrow issue, and so had no interest in fair at all.

            "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

            by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:43:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  people who get free housing (0+ / 0-)

        do NOT get the housing exemption on their taxes

        but this is interesting:  

        many ministers get perks such as "suit" allowances, utilities paid by their churches, a car allowance and many of the same perks enjoyed by the CEOs of mid tier companies.  
        somehow i never much more complaining here about church benefits than complaints about benefits CEOs get.

        i wonder why that is?

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:07:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed (5+ / 0-)

      Mrs. Deminva is an Episcopal priest, and I'm sitting in a rectory now.  

      This exemption surprised me when I first learned of it five years ago.  Back then, it made it easier for us to buy a home closer to our Northern Virginia parish, in a neighborhood where classic mid-Seventies split levels start at $600K.

      When you have a job where you have regular office hours, weekend hours, multiple evening meetings, etc., it's important not to live far away.

      It is for that reason that I thought the exemption made sense -- the same way it would for teachers, nurses, firemen, and others who provide essential services for communities.

      I know of many small rural parishes that are effectively "house poor" -- they own a rectory but don't have a large budget, so the housing allowance becomes much of the pay package.  This decision will cause economic hardship for some very modest, hardworking folks -- unless their parishes change their pay packages.

      Please proceed, lemmings.

      by deminva on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 03:47:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The purpose of federal tax law is to return (11+ / 0-)

    revenue to the Treasury so it can be counted and sent out again.
    Using the currency to reward and punish certain segments of the community is abusive. Since this behavior originates with Congress, that's who has to be taken to task.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:30:26 PM PST

  •  excellent. (6+ / 0-)

    thanks for the news, WOE.

    T/R, etc

  •  What Tax? (3+ / 0-)

    Property tax?

    Just on the ministers housing?

    The church building is still tax free?

    Are all non profits' building tax free? or just church's?

    Are atheist building's tax free?

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 04:55:47 PM PST

    •  generally, all nonprof buildings are exempt (14+ / 0-)

      from property tax.

      this case was about income tax. churches often provide a housing allowance to pastors.  in any other org, that housing would be taxable income to the recipient, but for a minister (or imam or rabbi or whatever) it is not taxable.  eg, its tax free income.  FRFF claimed that it provided. housing allowance to one of its executives and sued, alleging that the disparate treatment (the allowance is taxable income to the FFRF exec while it isn't for a pastor) is unconstitutional.

      •  Yes, and the section struck down was the (0+ / 0-)

        special treatment under 170, where churches are singled out for special treatment regrdless of whether they are non-profits or not. That section is pretty blatant and serves no legitimate public purpose, unlike the special treatment for education and science, etc.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:45:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  OOPS, special treatment under 107, similar to (0+ / 0-)

          but more egregious than that under 170.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

          by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:58:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I guess it would be (8+ / 0-)

      deemed imputed income.  The Xian thing for the parishioners to do is pay the minister a decent salary which would offset the tax by having the minister pay rent.

      " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

      by gchaucer2 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:03:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  they'll have to do a tax gross up (7+ / 0-)

        if they want the same net benefit to go to the pastor.

      •  The latest data I saw locally was that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        War on Error, phonegery

        ministers made around $40K-$50K annually which is not too shabby when you throw in the perks.  OTOH there are many bi-vocational ministers and semi-retired ministers as well so it is hard to accurately determine the average salary for ministers

        •  The median income for a family in the USA (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          phonegery, blueoasis, enhydra lutris

          is around $45,000, maybe a little less.  For a FAMILY, two working adults.

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:33:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And also some that get downright abusive (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gffish

          when it comes to extracting money from the flock.

          I've heard of one who claimed the whole congregation-wide tithe for himself. Building funds, the power bill, pew hymnals, everything that wasn't his salary? Second passing of the plate, every Sunday. Multiply that insisted 10% by twenty or thirty families...

          He and one preaching family I know of in the same area probably skew the data for their county's ministers by quite a bit, and the area is by no means short on churches.

        •  Strip the televangelists out. (3+ / 0-)

          That sort of thing might skew the figures.

          It's an old fact--for centuries--that the norm for clergy has been that they're relatively poor compared to their congregations. Threadbare suits, modest housing -- again, not the televangelists.

          And given than the mainstream traditions require a master's degree, etc., etc., there's a mountain of debt. An MDiv debt has been running close to $100k of late, as new grads go out into the market.

          How many people have masters to start a career, and that kind of debt, and make the national median income (or less)?

          "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

          by ogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:48:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well if they really are poor (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            War on Error

            They won't be paying much in taxes then.  The ones who are really going to get hit are these KKKhristian fundie and evangelical megachurches.

            Don't call these racist thugs the tea party, they are *teabaggers*! Please don't insult the original Tea Party as they were patriots. Call them TeaBaggers!

            by TeaBaggersAreRacists on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:01:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  more folks have MS and MA degrees at the (0+ / 0-)

            beginning of their career these days than there were in the 1980s or 1970s for example.  Also I note the proliferation of non-accredited seminaries which provide degrees to a lot of these folks.  The SBC some years ago had something of a scandal when the then head was revealed to have his degree from a diploma mill.  Policy decided on at that time was each church would determine if a degree from a diploma mill would be considered an educational credential

            •  All true. (0+ / 0-)

              But not true of mainline traditions, which have had accredited seminaries for hundreds of years.

              What's funny to me is that there is a long, long list of institutions that are seen as being public goods that various faiths established and helped fund and pay for. Harvard, Tufts, and a long, long list of universities that are secular -- all created by churches/clergy. Frequently for the public good, but also to train educated clergy (not the bs papermill sort). And there are other things as well.

              But nearly no one knows. And folks wail about how the churches don't do anything for the public good.

              And how many people can you point to who are leaving other careers in mid-life (not having lost a job and career; leaving good ones) and taking up $100k in debt to go into a field where the income is going to be modest, and pretty much always be modest?

              "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

              by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:52:36 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  ah, my student loan debt (0+ / 0-)

            if i ever get that paid off, that would really help me pay my taxes

            Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
            Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

            by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:19:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  It is not about non-profits, it is about (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pitbullgirl65, War on Error, smiley7

      CHURCHES, which needn't be and usually aren't non-profits. This decision is under IRC 170, not 501. Churches and ministers and other church employees get special treatment, even if they are enormously profitable.

      It is long past time for the special treatment of churches to end.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:43:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Clergy pay taxes (0+ / 0-)

      on property. And sales. And gas. And...

      Just not on this specific thing that is a "housing allowance" -- in lieu of provided housing -- which was accepted by the courts as being substantially equivalent and therefore fair and equitable.

      The combined logic will kill the "employer's convenience" deductions for everyone.

      "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

      by ogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:44:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not based on this ruling... (0+ / 0-)

        The judge's ruling relies on the Lemon test, as modified by O'Connor. Essentially, in order to be constitutional, a law that applies strictly to religions or their adherents must remove an obstacle to the free exercise of religion, and must not otherwise create preferences or obstacles for that religion.

        Employer's convenience is a secular exemption, so it's fine.

        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 08:05:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It'll be interesting to see (0+ / 0-)

          if the marginal economics for so many congregations, and the fact that this will mean they won't be able to afford clergy, will afford a claim of removing an obstacle....

          The feds have long had policies that generally -- blanket sense -- encourage religion. It just had to be highly non-specific.

          "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

          by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:02:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Looking forward (11+ / 0-)

    to the exorcism directed at that judge.  Catholic bishops and cardinals live high on the hog for the most part.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:05:59 PM PST

    •  Will it affect priests? (15+ / 0-)

      In my same upper crust New England town there was a 32 bedroom retreat ON the ocean for the Boston Jesuits.  At the end of a weekend, the trash barrels overflowed with empty liquor bottles and the ashtrays with butts.

      My friend cooked for them.  They ate like kings.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:19:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would think so (6+ / 0-)

        Since they are getting the same type of lodging for free.  Good diary WoE.

        " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

        by gchaucer2 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:34:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It will be interesting if a difference is parsed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gchaucer2, phonegery

          Catholic Priests vs Ministers.

          I suspect Priests (a vocation) will not be deemed ministers (a job).  I don't agree with this.  We will see.

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:36:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think the law knows this word "vocation" (0+ / 0-)

            That's a religious designation, not a legal one.

            Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

            by Nowhere Man on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:48:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Vocation is english and will be treated as such. (0+ / 0-)

              It has nothing to do with religion.

              That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

              by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:10:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think you missed my point (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TrueBlueMajority

                The use of the word "vocation" (from the Latin vocare, to call) to refer to a  religious calling -- that would be unknown to the law, because the law doesn't have a clue as to what a "religious calling" would be. (Or, if it does have a clue, it should promptly forget it.)

                Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                by Nowhere Man on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 03:49:41 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You missed my point. English words not (0+ / 0-)

                  clearly terms of art, where critical to the proper understanding of the matter at hand are assigned the english language meaning proper to the situation. If "vocation" a in calling is relevant, it will be used i that manner. I don't see how it would even come up, being outside the statute, but it if did, it would be used appropriately.

                  That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                  by enhydra lutris on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:08:12 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  all priests are ministers (0+ / 0-)

                    not all ministers are priests

                    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                    by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:25:20 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  In one sense, but under the law, not so much (0+ / 0-)

                      for the purposes of section 107. In fact Rabbis and Cantors are ministers of the gospel for purposes of sectio 107.

                      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                      by enhydra lutris on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:24:40 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  not so much? (0+ / 0-)

                        your comment either has nothing to do with what I said

                        or supports my comment

                        i can't figure out which.

                        "not all ministers are priests" clearly includes the fact that rabbis and cantors are ministers, but they are not priests

                        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
                        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

                        by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:33:26 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  No, really and truly, you missed my point (0+ / 0-)

                    You seem to have hyperfocused on the definitions of "religious calling" and "vocation". My reference to the dictionary definitions was a synecdoche -- "a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something, or vice-versa." When I said that the law wouldn't know the meaning of a "calling", that was a figure of speech meaning that (AFAIK) the law simply doesn't give a damn (so to speak) what a "calling" is. From the legal point of view, a "called" minister or priest is exactly the same as an "uncalled" minister or priest.

                    In fact, you seem to share this point of view when you wrote:

                    I don't see how it would even come up, being outside the statute
                    Yes, exactly!

                    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

                    by Nowhere Man on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:48:08 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  THe court would take cognizance of the fact (0+ / 0-)

                      that, throughout history, a minute percentage of preachers, ministers and other such whotnot claim to have been called to the extent necessary to interpret and apply the law.  I see no situatin where such a claim could be remotely relevant, but I am not all nowing.

                      Calling, if it exists at all, other than an unverifiable assertion,  exists only in the mind ot the person called. Joan-of-Ac heard voices, as did Reagan and the Son of Sam as well as multitudes of others. I gues all of these felt called, but there is no way to know if any really were. I suspect not, because there is no evidence based reality construct that requires god and hence no caller and ergo no calling nor callees. The Supreme Court, however, is loaded with satuanch Catholics and may find otherwise, should it ever somehow become relevant than minister 687 claimed to have been called.

                      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

                      by enhydra lutris on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:37:42 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  No difference (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            War on Error

            But on reading through the ruling, it does look like more established churches are better off (for now), because section 107(1), which says that homes provided by the church are exempt, I believe remains in force.

            This ruling appears to affect only 107(2), which applies to churches paying housing allowance to their leaders.

            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 07:06:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Won't matter. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            War on Error, TrueBlueMajority

            Clergy get treated as clergy by the law.

            Rabbis, ministers, imams, priests, etc. -- they're a single class under the law for mandated reporting status, etc., etc., etc.

            No way are they going to create a singular special privilege for one faith tradition. That would be blown away by the first court to consider the issue. And upheld by every court above it.

            "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

            by ogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:51:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Distinction between priests, bishops, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster, TrueBlueMajority

        ministers and all that won't fly. Rabbis and cantors qualify too. See the summary of the relevant rules here.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:09:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Eastern Point in Gloucester? (0+ / 0-)

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:23:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's not "new" tax law yet. (5+ / 0-)
    I hope this new tax law doesn't impoverish the truly humble servants of the Lord.
     
    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.
    case.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:07:10 PM PST

  •  It's the "parsonage exemption" (9+ / 0-)

    not the "parish exemption."

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 05:51:06 PM PST

  •  my CPA told me that ministers as a profession (15+ / 0-)

    are most given to egregious deductions in filing 1040s.  For example, he pointed to the number of ministers who tried to deduct the cost of $1000 suits on the grounds they were necessary specialized wear required by their profession (like steel toed boots for construction workers)  Nice try but no cigar.
    Other ministers try to deduct the cost of unaccredited degrees where they purchase a doctorate from a diploma mill and then claim it as an educational deduction.
    It will be interesting when those families such as the Falwells, Kennedys, Roberts and Robertsons have to start paying taxes on their cushy perks.  I can only hope that Billy Graham's little boy has the IRS all over the perks provided him by Shepherd's Purse, for example

  •  Don't celebrate too much just yet. If the (4+ / 0-)

    "convenience of the employer" rules are still alive and well elsewhere in the Code, this might not be over.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:28:25 PM PST

  •  Simple solution (9+ / 0-)

    tax churches the same as everyone else. Why do they get a free ride? Especially since a lot of them espouse political opinions.

    •  And those that studiously don't? (0+ / 0-)

      Those that scrupulously adhere to the rules, make an issue of training people about what those rules are, and sanction any violation of them, themselves?

      "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

      by ogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:53:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And create for profit businesses with tithes...... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jakedog42

      Is there any IRS oversight anymore?  Ogden, UT is where all the non-profit tax returns are processed.  WhY Utah?

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:01:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, and they're *entitled* to. (0+ / 0-)

      Free speech. Just like other corporations. And non-profits.

      They GET tax free status extended to them in RETURN for agreeing not to participate in partisan politics (meaning no supporting a candidate or party).

      So there's already a deal in place. Churches can opt not to be tax free, and play all the politics they want.

      And yes, some violate that, egregiously.

      And most of us -- clergy and not -- would dearly love to see the rules actually enforced. Stiffly.

      But the problem there are the violators and the IRS not carrying through.

      Not the vast majority, who don't espouse political opinions that might be seen as violating that line. (That people in church and out of church don't understand that agreement is a problem. But not the church's fault.)

      "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

      by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:12:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A terrible idea (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tofumagoo, johnnygunn, Egghead

    It's callow and stupid to be celebrating "for atheism" or "freedom from religion."

    Where ministers live in manses, it is considered part of the pay. Trust me: there's nothing "free" about it. Vicarages and the like are added in to the compensation packages, and when you see an abusive television evangelist, you're seeing an abusive television evangelist. The mainline churches have parsimonious parsons poor as a church mouse.  Even saying "free housing" shows such a profound ignorance that the motivations here are more than suspect.

    Being gleeful over something like this is intellectually clumsy, at best, and philosophically self-deceiving most likely.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:45:42 PM PST

    •  I should clarify (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tofumagoo

      Paying income tax on housing means that the courts are taking a recognized living allowance and treating it as a form of pay and demanding income tax on it. The very same principle would extend to say that a company's benefits package to a worker must always be converted to cash value and computed for income tax purposes and taxed. Be certain that you agree with that standard, that you want private school teachers to have to pay more income tax for the "free" housing that they "get" when they're assigned a house to oversee filled with students, that you want college students who are residential advisors to now have "income" for tax purposes because they received a room, etc.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:50:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The court addresses this (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ogre, offgrid, TrueBlueMajority

        And so does tax law.

        We exempt certain items from compensation under tax law already (e.g. health insurance); you might not know it, because it's not even reported income under the law.

        The court notes that there's nothing wrong with making a tax exemption - provided it serves a secular purpose or removes a burden on Free Exercise of Religion.

        And as others note above, your other cases - private school teachers or residential advisors - are covered under a separate part of the code dealing with conveniences to the employer.  (E.g. a lighthouse keeper gets to stay in the lighthouse tax-free, because it's obviously a convenience to the operator to have the keeper present when needed.)

        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 07:00:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Different laws provide those exemptions (4+ / 0-)

        which are not based exclusively upon being a minister of the gospel, but are instead based on the need to be present on the scene in order to carry out their duties.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:40:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nope, and if you choose to toss malicious (3+ / 0-)

      nonsense like intellectually clumsy and profiound ignorance and self deceiving, first find me one other class of con men and hucksters who are given any similar treatment.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:06:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  On call 24/7 (4+ / 0-)

      I agree with your statement that there is nothing "free" about having to live in church housing, especially when it's next door to the church. Has anyone else ever thought what it's like to have everyone you serve, i.e. work for, know exactly where you live, especially if it's on church property and not a housing allowance? Thought what it's like to be expected to have your home open for many church meetings and events, especially when the church is a historical building with no space for a pastoral office, much less meeting rooms? Some pastors and their families pay dearly for their limited privacy.

      •  This is a sound argument (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        offgrid, War on Error

        And falls outside either 107(2), which the court just invalidated, or 107(1), which remains intact and deals with church-owned housing.

        If the house is used for other church functions, and the pastor is essentially "on-call", then this falls under a separate part of the IRS code that has nothing to do with religion.

        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 07:47:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Still Free Housing (0+ / 0-)

        The housing might come with inconveniences. But it's still free. We're not taxing their intangible chargebacks.

        And like everyone else they're free to find another place of work, or another career, if it doesn't suit them.

        You're just finding excuses to violate the Constitution and make laws with respect to an establishment of religion.

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

        by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:58:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here is the actual law deemed to be improper, (3+ / 0-)

    very straightforward special treatment for ministers not available on the basis of anything other than being a minister. There is no requirement for the church to be charitable or non-profit or anything at all other than  a church.

    In the case of a minister of the gospel, gross income does not include—
    (1) the rental value of a home furnished to him as part of his compensation; or
    (2) the rental allowance paid to him as part of his compensation, to the extent used by him to rent or provide a home and to the extent such allowance does not exceed the fair rental value of the home, including furnishings and appurtenances such as a garage, plus the cost of utilities.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 06:53:09 PM PST

    •  The court dropped (1) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster, enhydra lutris

      The challenge was filed against 107(1) and 107(2), but the government asked that (1) be summarily dismissed as the FRFF wasn't providing either of the two plaintiffs a home as part of compensation. The FRFF did not challenge this, instead homing in on 107(2).

      So for now it looks like perhaps 107(1) might remain intact.

      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 07:03:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's only fair... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoenix Rising, antirove
    Tax Status of Employer-Provided Lodging
    Like other fringe benefits, free or discounted employer-provided lodging is usually subject to income and other taxes. To determine the fair market value of the housing provided to an employee, an employer may check local newspaper listings for comparable rental properties or ask a local realtor for an estimate of the property’s rental value. The employer reports the net value of the employee’s lodging fringe benefit in Box 1 of the employee’s W-2 form, and the employee declares this value as income on Line 7 of IRS Form 1040. For example, if the employee pays the employer $300 a month for the housing and the property's fair market rental rate is $600 a month, the employer must add $300 a month to the taxable income it reports on the employee's W-2.
    http://smallbusiness.chron.com/...
    I'm sorry it will effect the good preachers, but it's only fair and constitutional

    "Down with sodomy, up with teabagging!" Sign @ TeaBilly rally.

    by pitbullgirl65 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:11:07 PM PST

  •  I certainly hope that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, TrueBlueMajority

    the logical next step is that Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden will be paying tax on the imputed value of rent at the White House and Blair House.

    •  See "convenience of the employer" (3+ / 0-)

      described above.

      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 07:17:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Government Employee Exceptions (0+ / 0-)

      There's nothing in the Constitution that says Federal employees cannot be treated exceptionally, especially the elected employees. In fact there are several privileges granted them that are exceptional. There is also no way to establish the imputed value of rent for the White House or Blair House. Nor for their security details, Air Force One, etc.

      Your next step isn't really very logical at all. I don't know why you would hope for it.

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

      by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:01:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Imputed rent value (0+ / 0-)

        Sure you can: "President Obama's swanky digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. would cost a tenant $1.8 million a month in rent, according to Zillow.
        The real estate blog put together a listing for the 132-room mansion, estimating a total sale price would top $319 million."
        http://www.nydailynews.com/...

        We're not dealing with a constitutional bar, but an IRS regulation. Is there some reason for the IRS to exempt certain pribileged government employees from tax liability? And if you treat some government employees in one way, there is then no obvious bar to treating anybody else the same way, including pastors—you are just treating them the same way you treat others.

        •  Zillow (0+ / 0-)

          Zillow doesn't even give reliable "zestimates" for sale prices or rents on commodity homes. I know; I've been using it several times a month since I started shopping for my home (and bought it, and refi, and watched investments, and considered moving to other states, etc) .

          The White House imputed rent is like the imputed sale price of, say, the pope's crook - not Bill Gates' Microsoft shares. It's a unique item that isn't for sale.

          The IRS regulation exception for the White House is legit under the same doctrine that the Constitution establishes for exceptional treatment of government entities. For example: eminent domain; soverign immunity; government coercion powers generally; Congressional workplace exclusion from most regulations. We very clearly do have exceptions, even if not all of them just.

          If we wanted to charge the Obamas tax on their free rent at the White House (probably $8.5M tax) we'd have to increase presidential pay that much (plus the regression cycle for taxes on that extra income) just to withhold/collect it. And Congress would have to update the dollar amounts to adjust the imputed value along with the (imaginary) market. You don't even break even after applying the rules, because applying them has a cost.  That's clearly inane, and why government entities are subject to exceptions. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little respected government.

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

          by DocGonzo on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:09:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well color me confused. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou, tofumagoo, Catte Nappe

    I already pay taxes on the "fair rental value" of the parsonage. The 12,000 per year is taxed and is included in one of those little boxes down and to the right on my W2.

    Was I not supposed to?

    Obviously, I'm not using an accountant. With no mortgage deduction and a 15% rate, I usually have a significant tax bite. We take the standard deduction because itemization doesn't get us there.

    All this gives me a headache.

    If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.-Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s

    by left rev on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:23:34 PM PST

    •  that could just be informational reporting, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      left rev

      left rev.  it may not be included in income even if its disclosed on the face of the w2. talk to your comptroller or director of finance or whatever.

      •  Thanks, johnny (4+ / 0-)

        but we have no comptroller or director of finance. We have a treasurer who tries to keep the church's checkbook balanced.

        We do have some folks at the Conference level who know something about it. You have to make appointments with them 18 months in advance. There are so few of them and so many clueless small church pastors.

        This is not my skill set. Turbo Tax asks me to fill out the blanks and I fill out the blanks :)

        If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.-Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s

        by left rev on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:36:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If the courts are interested in equity... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tofumagoo, Egghead

    then they will also stop the IRS from pretending that ministers are independent contractors.

    The consequence of that? Ministers have to pay their share of FICA and the employer's share.

    The tax code isn't fair. It's given advantages on one hand and screwed the same folks on the other.

    Yes, for the abusive televangelists, this piece of the tax code has been a highly abused windfall. And for many small congregations that barely scrape along already, this may be the last straw. Many congregations already can't afford a minister; they share one with another -- or two other congregations. Unable to get this small housing advantage, they may go belly up.

    And yes, there are all kinds of abuses in religion that one can (and should) object to. But there are serious consequences for the lowest economic strata, which often can only find a little help from a church.

    Save the glee. Real people will suffer for this. And the televangelists will only fleece people more to make up for it. And society won't be better off.

    "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

    by ogre on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 07:28:10 PM PST

    •  This is probably to avoid taxing the church (0+ / 0-)

      Since the church itself is pretty much tax-exempt, the minister gets all of the tax burden in his income statement. Of course, I don't think this applies to church staff, so maybe it's just another preferential tax law that someone should challenge.

      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 07:35:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Could be. (0+ / 0-)

        But it still double taxes the minister, which isn't "fair" or equal treatment. I wonder if a clergy organization might take on the FFRF and complain that its top employee(s) aren't having to pay both halves of FICA and that's not fair, either.

        "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

        by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:02:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'll bet that's related to the ability of (0+ / 0-)

      ministers to opt out of social security, which they can if they have ethical objections (why would they? no idea).  that way they can opt out of both the employer and the employee part.

      •  With a bona fide ethical objection (0+ / 0-)

        you can get out of many things. Vaccinations. Military service.

        But you have to prove it, not just claim it.

        And the suggestion makes no sense. If a minister were to opt out, then the paperwork would be no more complex and onerous for the minister and church not to pay FICA in that case than for it to just be the minister. The idea that all ministers should be double taxed there so that a few can choose an opt out with less paperwork? That's really absurd.

        "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

        by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:05:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Pay Their Taxes (0+ / 0-)

      If society wants to subsidize a private religious organization because it offers benefits, it can do that without muddying the tax code and violating the Constitution.

      If we exempted little league baseball teams, coaches, umpires from taxes the way we do churches, there'd be a lot more happy baseball fans, and the resulting community benefits etc. And that's the national pasttime, not an arbitrarily defined metaphysics club.

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

      by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:05:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  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

      [ Parent ]

      •  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

        [ Parent ]

        •  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 ]

  •  Your brush is a wee bit broad... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnnygunn, CitizenJoe, Catte Nappe
    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.
    The average US church has 75 regular participants and a $90,000 budget.

    The average US attendee worships in a congregation of roughly 400 participants.

    Duke University's Pulpit and Pew Survey gave us data for average salaries relative to denomination and church size in 2000:

    Catholic (centralized salaries)
      Small (< 100) 10% $20,883
      Medium (101-350) 34% 24,170
      Large (351-1000) 35% 24,735
      Very large (1000+) 20% 26,633

    Connectional (mixed control of salaries)
      Small (< 100) 56% 36,000
      Medium (101-350) 38% 49,835
      Large (351-1000) 6% 66,003

    Congregational (decentralized salaries)
      Small (<100) 63% 22,300
      Medium (101-350) 32% 41,051
      Large (351-1000) 5% 59,315
      Very large (1000+) 0.5% 85,518

    So, even the largest churches in America in those denominations with local church control over salaries (e.g. Baptist, Pentecostal, UCC) paid an average salary of just under $86,000 in 2000 - and they were only the top 0.5% of churches in their denomination(s).

    There's aren't that many ministers "in it for the money."

    Please don't draw conclusions about many, many fine pastors based upon what you see on TV.

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 08:01:41 PM PST

    •  That is fascinating. (0+ / 0-)

      I'd be interested in some of the non-salary benefits, too.
      I'm especially struck by how flat the curve is for Catholic priests (makes me kinda atavistically proud, too). What about nuns?
      Do you have some links? Duke/Pew, I think I can find.
      Joe

      "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

      by CitizenJoe on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:56:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Priests... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe

        have taken a vow of poverty. But the device there has been to build lavish facilities for those at the top (1000+?), and particularly bishops, etc. -- like the one in Germany who blew $20 million on his residence. Oh, wait, not "his." So he's still poor. Lotta cheering almost everywhere when Francis busted him on that. But it had been commonplace enough for a long time before.

        As to benefits that aren't salary...

        Some of those have included some health care benefits; typically partial payment of health insurance. Often only for the minister, not for family. But only some have included it at all. Very much church by church, and more likely at the larger ones.

        Most include some modest amount for professional expenses -- mileage for driving one's own vehicle all over, dues for any professional associations, and meetings one must/should attend. Capped by whatever the amount is. Spend more, and it's just like teachers buying supplies for kids.

        A very few -- and only relatively recently -- include an employer's donation towards retirement. Before that (and still, widely), clergy and their spouses depended entirely on savings and social security for survival in old age. Collections to help pay for urgent medical care, food, utility bills, etc., were commonplace. Still are.

        Salary
        Housing
        Insurance (maybe)
        Retirement (maybe)
        Professional expenses

        That's what's on my contract, and it's very, very typical. Mine includes insurance and retirement. The retirement will suffice to help support a very modest lifestyle.

        "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

        by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:31:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Insurance (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ogre, shanikka

          It has struck me in this thread that many who are cheering the taxation of clergy housing might want to think about a corollary concept - taxing the value of employer provided medical insurance. That has been proposed, and would be a logical extension of this line of thinking.

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 02:07:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  forgot to mention the Sharia Law exemption (0+ / 0-)

    death to amurica!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:14:16 PM PST

  •  Plus... (0+ / 0-)

    It's a hoax. They should go to jail.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 09:23:02 PM PST

  •  Most Minister I Know - (3+ / 0-)

    Live in tiny, outdated parsonages.
    They work 60-hour weeks.
    And they are on call 24/7.

    Their income/benefit packages are a tiny fraction of others with a similar level of education and demands placed upon them - such as doctors.

    •  Doctors and Ministers (0+ / 0-)

      How do ministers have the same demands placed on them, even if a metaphysical education is taken as similar to a physician's? Because supposedly one's afterlife is at stake, compared to one's life?

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

      by DocGonzo on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:09:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How Would a Person - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ogre, TrueBlueMajority

        Who ridicules classical music appreciate Beethoven?

        •  How Would One Hand Clapping Sound? (0+ / 0-)

          What are you talking about? You're saying that since I don't believe in god or appreciate religion that I can't understand how demanding it is?

          But the government should appreciate it, right? So the government should believe in religious claims, and exempt from taxes, right?

          Wrong. If that's what you're saying, it's a tautological copout. Until you can prove that being a minister has the same demands on them as a doctor does, or at least make a convincing argument (metaphysics doesn't offer proof beyond tautologies, which aren't proof), it's just an empty claim.

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

          by DocGonzo on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:20:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Assumptions. (4+ / 0-)

        Probably 35-40% of my congregation are some stripe of Atheist.

        The education was required. But most clergy will tell you that their required education is/was out of date. Not the theology and ethics, but the parts that don't begin to provide the training for what actual parish life is like.

        60 hours+, yes. And most of that is spent in doing pastoral care and administration work. Pastoral care meaning going and being with people who are suffering and dying. Or have family suffering and dying. Helping them through making decisions about suffering and dying. Being with them while they do those things, so that they're not alone.

        And the data says that the role is more wearing than doctors. Doctors mostly step in, perform their work, and step out. The human-human interaction they do is limited, and often only just sufficient to socially lubricate the interaction they need to have for medical purposes. Being with people who are dying or losing some serious life capacity, for hours, day after day, week after week, just for the human-human interaction and presence. Yeah, that's the fun and games that makes up a big slice of ministry work. Holding a space for people to wrestle with questions, to have someone to ask questions of, as they try to figure out how they make peace with living incapacitated, or dying. Or having done something that will burden them for their whole lives.

        And then pivoting around to get paid a couple hundred dollars for pre-marital counseling, and developing a marriage ceremony, and helping them negotiate issues and family crises, and attending a rehearsal and then the wedding itself.  And pivoting back to provide a memorial service. Maybe for an elderly person whose life just ran out. Or a veteran who struggled and offended almost everyone around him and succeeded in dying alone, a suicide -- and the family is feeling guilty and ashamed, and angry and lost, as well as grieving.

        Cakewalk.

        "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

        by ogre on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:43:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  i assumed he meant the being on call 24/7 (0+ / 0-)

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:33:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  They should pay taxes. (4+ / 0-)

    Christian Group Says Christians Can't Support Govt. Helping Poor People" by Michael Allen

    Christian-based Family Research Council (FRC) claims that doesn't include the government helping the needy. FRC head T Perkins recently told Christian radio host that while Christians should be active in politics and government, they cannot support the government helping poor people. "Saying the government has a responsibility to care for the poor? That’s not what scripture says,said Perkins .

    Evangelicals want to decide which
    services are provided and which are not. They want to cut all
    social programs and leave it to the Church Lady to provide all.
    social support services for the US population, but only after
    they come begging on their knees and sign a pledge to not be gay.

    American Heart Association: Diet Soda can cause type 2 Diabetes. "Circulation" July 23, 2007. Read it for yourself.

    by jeffrey789 on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:02:11 PM PST

    •  Personally I strongly believe (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jeffrey789, gffish

      that those who spout homophobia like Perkins need to put in prison.

      I would support mandatory deprogramming for racists and homophobes, with those who cannot be deprogrammed placed in prison for life.

      Don't call these racist thugs the tea party, they are *teabaggers*! Please don't insult the original Tea Party as they were patriots. Call them TeaBaggers!

      by TeaBaggersAreRacists on Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 10:05:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ahhh...Another Clockwork Orange fan... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DrTerwilliker, ogre, nextstep
      •  Thanks for your 2 cents, Mao (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ogre, nextstep

        You know, noone reads your little Red Book anymore.
        Its been replaced by the latest Neiman Marcus catalogue.

      •  This is America. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, nextstep

        Perkins is free--and ought to be free--to express his homophobia. (No-one, of course, ought to be free to advocate violence against others.)

        Perkins was born in the Free Speech Zone. So was I, and, I'll bet, so were you.

        There is this First Amendment thing. It allows you to call people TeaBaggers, and to assert that they are racists. It allows me to disrespect any establishment of religion, if I want. It also allows Perkins to spew his venom.

        "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

        by CitizenJoe on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 06:09:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I just strongly disagree with you (0+ / 0-)

          There are limits to the reach of the First Amendment.  
          This idea that it is completely absolute is fairly new and pretty wrong.  It is that kind of extreme twisting of the interpretation of the meaning of the First Amendment that got us shit decisions like Citizens United.

          Racist, misogynistic, homophobic hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment, IMO.  The government has a "compelling interest" in stopping this kind of speech because it does considerable harm to society, and the speech itself has little to no value.  And I don't buy the "slippery slope" argument either.  If I were a judge, I would have no problem upholding a law (or FCC regulation) that would ban Rush Limbaugh from the airways or Tony Perkins from spewing harmful hate toward gays and lesbians.

          Don't call these racist thugs the tea party, they are *teabaggers*! Please don't insult the original Tea Party as they were patriots. Call them TeaBaggers!

          by TeaBaggersAreRacists on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 06:24:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know anyone who thinks that-- (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe

            --the First Amendment "is completely absolute." Do you?

            Where we disagree, I think, is about the limits. I don't think that speech has to be valuable in order to be protected, and I think it has to be shown to be very harmful in order to be prohibited--on the order of shouting "Fire" in the proverbial crowded theater. So, "Kill the Gays, and here is a list, with their addresses," ought to be prohibited, and it is. But "God hates fags" is loathsome and legal. And I don't want those loathsome haters sent to prison, or to re-education camps.

            "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

            by CitizenJoe on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:16:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually I do (0+ / 0-)

              Plenty of commenters here on Daily Kos seem to dabble in First Amendment absolutist extremism.

              Don't call these racist thugs the tea party, they are *teabaggers*! Please don't insult the original Tea Party as they were patriots. Call them TeaBaggers!

              by TeaBaggersAreRacists on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:19:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Citation? "First Amendment absolutist extremism." (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Catte Nappe

                I can't think of one commenter here who has argued that the First Amendment is "completely absolute." Now, I don't read every one of the comments--who could--but it's hard for me to believe I've missed every one of the "Plenty of commenters here" that you indicate.
                Could you cite a few comments that so indicate?

                I'm with the ACLU and the guy from Miami. Maybe that makes me (and them) extremist. I want free speech for Ollie North, Rush Limbaugh, and the FlushRush heroes, too.

                "Defend the bastards."
                                             - from a Miami man who sent a check to the ACLU to assist in the 1977 defense of the Nazi's right to march in Skokie, Illinois
                Thanks.
                Joe

                "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

                by CitizenJoe on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:16:45 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  History proved that, in times of great calamity, (0+ / 0-)

      charities were unable to shoulder the burden.

      In a nutshell, read this

      Short welfare history

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:39:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you are poor you don't pay tax (0+ / 0-)

    In the Catholic church there are priests who get salaries and work for bishops, and those who technically own nothing and live in monasteries. The former are reasonably well paid.

    But there is a real trick in this situation. If the rectory is technically owned by the bishop (it is) and "lent" to the priests, it is part of the net worth of the diocese as calculated for (dare I say) lawsuits, etc.

    Just paying a minister a reasonable wage commensurate with degrees, etc would be too complicated, wouldn't it?

  •  My church pays the Minister a housing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority

    allowance and he purchases a home that he owns.

    On the other hand, our Grounds Keeper lives in our old parsonage free of rent in return for keeping up the grounds.  It has been a good arrangement for both and the church has the advantage of having someone close by to keep an eye on the church.  It's no telling how many break-ins it has prevented.

    Wonder how this will impact us?

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:50:24 AM PST

  •  I hope the appeals drag slowly... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error

    as the courts--especially the Supremes--shift away from the Scalia bent. Which is why we really have to work to keep the Senate!

    This is a big deal, if it stands. It really will help in repairing the wall between church and state.

    "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

    by CitizenJoe on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:50:49 AM PST

    •  There are now no Protestants on SCOTUS (0+ / 0-)

      Does the U.S. Supreme Court need another Protestant?

      Does it matter, in a majority Protestant country, that another one join the court? Sarah Pulliam Bailey, blogging at Get Religion, notes that this does matter to another Protestant -- retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who told the Associated Press that the court needed more religious diversity.
      Not that it matters.  The selection of Supremes undergoes a rigorous democratic process and the law is blind to religion (highly debated by some).

      However, if 50% of the nation is Protestant as this chart suggests, it is curious that there are now no Protestant Supremes.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:20:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  they went under establisment instead of P&I (0+ / 0-)

    this will be a real interesting
    chance to work out the P&I clause

  •  All they have to do is offer an exemption to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnnygunn

    any employee of an Not For Profit who receives housing as part of their compensation.

    Preferably up to some reasonable limit, like 25k a year.

    Churches should be treated exactly like the City Historical Society or The Nature Conservancy or any other NPO.  No better, no worse.

    "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

    by JesseCW on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:18:02 AM PST

    •  No new exemptions are needed. (0+ / 0-)

      There is already a law covering employer-provided room and board. It is purely secular and does not distinguish between for-profit and non-profit entities. It applies to all employer-provided room and board, provided that living in said housing (generally on-site or very nearby) is a condition of employment.

      Right now today, I live in an apartment complex where 2  maintenance workers are provided with apartments. A long-time friend pays no tax on his free housing at the boarding school where he teaches. At least one non-profit in my area employs resident managers to increase security or decrease resident-staff ratios in their supportive housing and group homes.

      The only change needed is for houses of worship to fall under the same statute as any other entity.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:37:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not the effect you would think (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, Catte Nappe

    Be careful what you wish for.

    I work "half-time" as a pastor for $20,600 per year.  We can just barely do this because my husband is retired.  If I have to pay income tax on my housing allowance, the church will have to make up the difference, because I surely can't.  My church is already running a deficit approximately equal to my pay.  They have the money, and I would personally be okay.

    But if this becomes the law of the land, it won't hurt the Rick Warrens of the world, the preachers all over the media preaching hate.  It will hurt little churches like mine, churches that the poor depend upon to help with food when Food Stamps are cut, or gas when they have to go to a doctor's appointment 70 miles away.

    I know I'm going to be flamed for this, because it is very difficult to be a Christian on this board.  We have freedom OF religion in this country, not freedom FROM religion.  Any church or whatever a specific faith calls their organization can benefit from our exemption from housing allowance, without distinction in any way.  No one judges what is or isn't a church.  So I will take hope from the thought that the current Supreme Court would never change the current law, and hope to survive a few more years in ministry, helping the poor and caring for my small flock.

    "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Jesus, Matthew 25:40, New Revised Standard Version.

    by Tenn Wisc Dem on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:08:15 AM PST

    •  I don't understand something here (0+ / 0-)

      You get paid $20,600. Does that include your housing allowance or is the housing allowance on top of that? Either way, you get paid a housing allowance, and expect that you shouldn't have to pay taxes on it. If your neighbor gets paid the same amount in total as a maintenance worker for the same church, they have to pay taxes on the full amount. Why should you be treated any different? Should your needs, or the church's needs be part of the equation when determining equality in taxes?

      •  I should have answered this sooner (0+ / 0-)

        but I don't spend the time I used to on kos.  To your factual question, no, I take no salary.  My entire compensation is housing allowance, plus fully paid health insurance and pension.  The national church requires the health and pension.  

        I think it is inevitable that at some point we will lose the income tax advantage.  But it will hurt small churches who do big things far more than it will hurt the big churches.  So the effect on society may not be what you think.  But then, what change ever is?

        I would only ask that this change be made gradually, not all at once.  No one wants a large cut in pay all at once, and that is what this would effectively be to a lot of folks who are doing a lot of good.  The vast majority of pastors live on very little and spend an enormous amount of time helping others.  We never make the news, but we are there.

        "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Jesus, Matthew 25:40, New Revised Standard Version.

        by Tenn Wisc Dem on Sun Dec 01, 2013 at 11:00:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The Mormon "pastors" work 20 hrs/week+ (0+ / 0-)

      and all day Sunday every Sunday for free, no wages, strickly volunteered time.  They all have full-time jobs elsewhere.  It's quite an organization to behold quite frankly.  A bit intrusive for me, but organized in every way.

      Do I understand you?  You work part-time, get paid $20,600/yr AND get free housing?  And your church's deficit equals your salary/housing?

       

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 12:27:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can I assume this goes not only for "ministers" (0+ / 0-)

    but for Priests, Reverends, Rabbis and Imams, as well?

    Righteousness is a wide path. Self-righteousness is a bullhorn and a blindfold.

    by Murphoney on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 09:24:26 AM PST

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