Sunday, 1 December 2013

USA's March Towards Secularism

[The RCA is] concerned about a recent judicial ruling declaring parsonage unconstitutional:

Judge Declares Tax Exclusion For Clergy Housing Payments Unconstitutional 
Judge Barbara Crabb of the United States District Court For The Western District Of Wisconsin has ruled that a substantial tax benefit enjoyed by many thousands of clergy - ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and others - is unconstitutional. Code Section 107(2) provides that the gross income of a "minister of the gospel" does not include:
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.
In the introduction Judge Crabb wrote:
With respect to the merits, I conclude that § 107(2) violates the establishment clause under the holding in Texas Monthly, Inc. v. Bullock, 489 U.S. 1 (1989), because the exemption provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.
However, my sources tell me: "District Courts (lowest level among federal courts) do the darndest things. It's a non-event until it's affirmed by a circuit court, which it likely won't be."  We will be keeping an eye on this.

Kol Tuv,

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