Monday, October 16, 2017

Clergy Housing Tax Break: Good Riddance

Well, this opinion may not be shared by many of my friends. Nevertheless, here goes:

The housing deduction enjoyed for the past 60 years by clergy is the subject of a lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).  The FFRF has prevailed in the latest round of appeals. As reported by Christianity Today:
Once again, a federal judge has declared that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. 
Offered only to “ministers of the gospel,” the 60-year-old tax break excludes the rental value of a home from the taxable income of US clergy. It’s the “most important tax benefit available to ministers,” according to GuideStone Financial Resources. 
It’s also the biggest: American ministers currently avail themselves of the tax break to the tune of $800 million a year, according to the latest estimate by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.
This is a blatant special privilege for clergy. There is no reason why a pastor should get a housing tax break as opposed to, say, a carpenter, or a lawyer, or a staffer at Planned Parenthood.

This was an indefensible benefit created primarily for Christian clergy. We shouldn't take advantage of government support, beyond what is given to all non-profits.

Those of us who can give more to make up the loss should do so. We should be supporting our pastor--his housing should not be subsidized by the government.

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