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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Clergy Financial Resources is a national accounting and finance organization serving churches and clergy since 1980. They have an unparalleled tax expertise on the complex issues associated with clergy tax law, clergy taxes, clergy compensation and church payroll. Clergy Financial Resources is a valuable resource for clergy, churches and denominations.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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