The Freedom From Religion Foundation won a ruling recently on the unconstitutionality of pastors getting an income tax break on their housing. Some administrators in the faith say eliminating this tax advantage, if it stands up in more legal venues, will impose new economic conditions on pastors and churches. It will be an advantage to the general public because the tax break increases the public’s tax bill by about $700 million. When a church pays a pastor a housing allowance the “minister of the gospel” does not include it in his/her income.
The FFRF’s co Presidents are a married couple who sought the same tax break pastors receive. The Internal Revenue Service denied their request. Now, a Federal Court judge has ruled the IRS is wrong. This seems to open the door to secular organizations receiving the same tax break as preachers.
The tax advantage goes back to 1954 “under God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance. It was politically popular to be against communism by being for God.
The sponsor said pastors should be rewarded for “…carrying on such a courageous fight against the (godless and anti religious world movement).” Over time the rule was applied to clergy in other religions.
The FFRF needed to apply for the tax benefit, even through it opposed it, to have standing in court. The implication is that if FFRF ultimately cannot be turned down then all secular organizations can have the same benefit.
Maybe secular bloggers like me can pay fewer taxes.