The Tennessean recently published an article regarding the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawsuit challenging the clergy housing allowance exclusion. Their argument against the clergy housing allowance exclusion is that the tax breaks gives an unfair advantage to religious organizations.
Lawyers for the Federal government are now arguing that leaders of atheist organizations may qualify for the housing allowance exclusion. They would qualify because atheism can function as a religion. The Department of Justice issued a brief stating that he belief in a deity is not required for a group to be considered “religious.” They noted examples or Buddhism and Taoism as religions that don’t include a belief in God. In the motion to dismiss the case, the government stated “Plaintiffs may not presume that a law’s reference to religion necessarily excludes beliefs that are specifically non-theistic in nature,”
The originally lawsuit filed claims that the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation Annie Laurie Gaylor, and her husband Dan Barker, were not allowed to take advantage of the housing allowance exclusion even after it was approved by the Freedom From Religion Foundation because they were not considered clergy.
With this new argument, Annie Laurie Gaylorwould now qualify for the housing allowance exclusion. Gaylor stated “We are not ministers, we are having to tell the government the obvious — we are not a church.” Gaylor isn’t interested in the housing allowance exclusion for herself, she wants it eliminated completely.
For the latest news on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawsuit in opposition to the clergy housing allowance exclusion. Check back with the Clergy Tax Law Blog.
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