Minister’s Housing Allowance case over for now – still constitutional

Minister’s Housing Allowance case over for now – still constitutional
Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

Housing Allowance Decision Not Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

In another surprising move, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has decided not to seek United States Supreme Court review of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ March 15, 2019 unanimous decision, holding that the ministerial housing allowance did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

By Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources

DALLAS, Texas – Litigation challenging the constitutionality of the minister’s housing allowance has formally ended after the Freedom From Religion Foundation chose not to appeal a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The FFRF, which won a challenge to the housing allowance in a district court on December 31, 2017, lost during an appeal to the Seventh Circuit when a three-judge panel ruled unanimously to overturn the lower court’s decision. The minister’s housing allowance was codified in federal tax law in 1954,

GuideStone® Chief Legal Officer Harold R. Loftin Jr., who has monitored this and other challenges to the housing allowance, and attended the oral arguments before the Seventh Circuit panel in Chicago, praised the ending of the case. GuideStone has actively engaged in the various challenges to the housing allowance exclusion, filing amicus briefs alongside Southern Baptist and other denominational benefit plans and advocating with legislators and regulators.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation said that they believed given the composition of the Supreme Court that the could not prevail in the case,” Loftin said. “We believe that their case had no merit, regardless of the ideological makeup of the court, but regardless, are thankful that this matter has been put to rest for the time being.”

GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins echoed Loftin’s sentiments.

“We are thankful for so many, including the U.S. Justice Department, that so ably argued on behalf  of the constitutionality of the minister’s housing allowance,” Hawkins said. “It is our belief that had the case made it to the Supreme Court that the housing allowance would have been upheld as constitutional. Regardless, pastors and churches needn’t worry about in the near-term about the housing allowance.

“GuideStone will continue to monitor alongside our Southern Baptist family, and as part of a coalition of large and historic pension boards, both litigation and legislation related to the housing allowance to advocate on behalf of the pastors we are privileged to serve.”

In 2017, the Freedom From Religion Foundation won a district court ruling that declared the minister’s housing allowance unconstitutional. That decision was stayed, pending the resolution of all appeals. It was overturned early in March 2019. A similar ruling, made by the same judge in 2013, was overturned on appeal in 2014.

21 Comments

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 20, 2019

    Troy Day

    many preachers thank God for this today Alan Smith

    • Alan Smith
      Reply June 20, 2019

      Alan Smith

      Troy Day I bet so

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 20, 2019

      Troy Day

      I’ve been telling Link Hudson after the recent tax reform this is ALL preachers had left and it was on the line until now – and for now

  • Tyler A Blake
    Reply June 20, 2019

    Tyler A Blake

    Government should not have a hand in religion

  • Dean Crombie
    Reply June 20, 2019

    Dean Crombie

    We should be like the early disciples and Jesus . Jesus sent Peter to go fishing , caught the fish found the hold inside and paid the taxes . Tax exempt they were NOT and neither should we be that gives the government full rights to come in and do as they do . Jesus also said render u to God what is God’s, Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar . Are we above the Master ? Think on it and Pray on it . Blessings

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 21, 2019

    Troy Day

    Tyler A Blake Should churches stop being 501(c)3? http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/should-churches-stop-being-501c3/

    • Tyler A Blake
      Reply June 21, 2019

      Tyler A Blake

      Troy Day it’s a slippery slope. It gives the government free reign to say well “you have to stop/start preaching x if you want to stay 501c3” and i just dont like that idea in the slightest

    • Link Hudson
      Reply June 21, 2019

      Link Hudson

      I have read the opinion thatchurches are automatically tax exempt and that 501c3 status makes it easier for individuals to get deductipns. What percentage of American Pentecostal givers even itemize. I just take the standard deduction

    • Tyler A Blake
      Reply June 21, 2019

      Tyler A Blake

      Link Hudson the people are not tax exempt the “church building” for lack of a better word (another arguement for another time) and organizing or owners are exempt from paying taxes. granted I suppose you could turn tithes in as an expense

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 22, 2019

      Troy Day

      Ed Brewer has claimed churches dont have to be registered 501c3 but I suspect his church maybe too

    • Ed Brewer
      Reply June 22, 2019

      Ed Brewer

      Troy Day ….you misrepresent what I said…. churches don’t have to be ‘registered’ for contributors to be eligible for 501c3 tax benefits — they are constitutionally protected and exempt from secular non-profit reporting requirements et al….and for the record, my church has a non-profit FEIN for the purpose of tax ID, but that’s not a requirement (and not the same as a local incorporation/registration) – it was secured to obtain a mortgage a generation ago, but that was a bank requirement, not a government one.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 22, 2019

      Troy Day

      Ed Brewer how did I misrepresent what you said?

  • Troy Day
    Reply June 21, 2019

    Troy Day

    Link Hudson not sure how your comment is relevant at all. Members itemizing matter little – this is specifically for ministers who use the housing allowance. Since ministerial taxes have changed drastically in recent years – there is 1 too many schedules to fill up. Most ministers cannot NOT itemize because they use expenses to do their church work. Pastors have expense allowance and turn in expense reports monthly or some churches weekly. It is hard to file these as a simple reimbursement because they do not fall under W2 or 1099 but YET churches must turn them in. Recently many pastors have dealt away with expenses placing most relative reimbursements under the housing allowance item – the housing was long under attack until this week THOUGH many dont believe it will remain like this And NOT you cant file your church expense under 10% – this makes no sense at all as it is already moneys spent

    • Link Hudson
      Reply June 21, 2019

      Link Hudson

      It makes sense in tge subtopic of whether cchurches shoukd be 501c3, at least from the perspective of the perspective of many nonclergy.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 22, 2019

      Troy Day

      Link Hudson we are at a point where churches cannot be non-501c3 legally no matter what anyone says

    • Link Hudson
      Reply June 22, 2019

      Link Hudson

      That is obviously false. None of the churches I went to in Indonesia were registered as 501c3 as far as I know. There are plenty of unregistered house churches in the US. I went to a church of several hundred that was not 501c3 in the ‘aughts’.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 22, 2019

      Troy Day

      Link Hudson it is not false in America – even larger denominations who once were all under 501c3 now require by law their local congregations to become a separate 501c3 entity Just ask Ed Brewer I bet his church even if denominational is registered as a separate 501c3 entity with its own IRS employer number and everything – by state law

    • Link Hudson
      Reply June 22, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Troy Day a church does not have to pay salaries.

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 23, 2019

      Troy Day

      Link Hudson country tax, property tax – its one too many things as financial and tax burdens on churches

    • Link Hudson
      Reply June 23, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Troy Day why would hous churches care?

    • Troy Day
      Reply June 24, 2019

      Troy Day

      Link Hudson That depends – is a house church really a Biblical concept as we know it ?

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