Another Lawsuit Threatens the Clergy Housing Allowance
A lawsuit filed on September 12, 2011 threatens the constitutionality of sections 107 and 265(1)(6) of the federal tax code, which establishes the housing allowance for ministers. The Atheist group (Freedom from Religion Foundation) filing the lawsuit asserts the unique benefit set aside especially for “ministers of the gospel” is a violation of separation of church and state.
No ruling has yet been made in the lawsuit, and no changes have been made to the tax code allowing the parsonage exemption. Any ruling in the case will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.
A similar lawsuit was filed by the “Freedom from Religion Foundation” in 2009. On June 17, 2011, this legal challenge to the clergy housing allowance was voluntarily dismissed in a California U.S. District Court. The reason the lawsuit was dropped was due to the fact that the atheist group was not directly affected by Sections 107 and 265(1)(6) of the federal tax code and therefore they do not have the standing to challenge it. The September 12, 2011 version of the lawsuit includes plaintiffs that are affected by the Sections 107 and 265(1)(6) of the federal tax code.
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