Deducting Pastor’s Housing From His/Her Income Tax May End

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.


7 Responses

    1. Retired 7:01 If the tax advantage goes away for clergy I wonder how long until it goes away for the military?

      My impression is there is even a bigger threat to employment in the military. It is that its functions will be performed by mercenaries, private firms contracting with the government. Private firms have been taking over more functions for years. What is your view about this?

      1. Retired Major

        I believe private firms will take on a bigger role in providing the functions needed to operate the military. Contract employees do not generate near as much negative press when killed or injured and the owners can make an immense profit. I don’t think this is the best way to go but it appears inevitable.

        1. Retired 10:52 I don’t think this is the best way to go but it appears inevitable.

          I agree. It sort of peculiar that the football players who kneel during the anthem have a motive assigned to them. They are said to be disrespectful of the veterans who died in wars. They say their motive is different, but that is what is assigned to them. If those who die in wars are no longer “veterans” but private employees we used to call “mercenaries” will there be any “veterans” to honor. Will it be OK, then, not to stand during the anthem?

          And, there is the vast number of politicians who have and continue to say they will “take care of our veterans.” Want will they run on if there are no veterans but just mercenaries.

  1. Juan Ruiz

    “The tax advantage goes back to 1954 “so help me God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance.”

    I believe the wording is “under God.”

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