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Judge: Tax Break for Clergy is Unconstitutional

I expected this. I mean, come on. We all expected this. I'm not sure I expected it this week but we all knew it was coming eventually.

Specifically, a federal district court judge who I believe is a Jimmy Carter appointee (I know, right?) has declared that a 60 year old law that allows “a minister of the gospel” to not pay income tax on a specific portion of their compensation is “unconstitutional."

Religion News reports:

A federal judge has ruled that an Internal Revenue Service exemption that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances is unconstitutional.

The exemption applies to an estimated 44,000 ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and others. If the ruling stands, some clergy members could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on Friday (Nov. 22) in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, saying the exemption violates the establishment clause because it “provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.”
Doesn't the government choose all the time who to give tax breaks to? It seems to me that politically, both parties would have to at least pretend to be outraged by this but since the judge didn't just say it's just bad but called it "unconstitutional" that kinda' takes things out of the legislator's hands, right?

There's a stay on this for now while appeals are heard but if it doesn't get overturned, it will become precedent and could effect the entire country.

It seems that the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed the suit. And the Obama administration is defending the law. Don't you feel safe knowing that the Obama administration has your back?

*subhead*No tax break for you.*subhead*

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8 comments:

Mack Hall, HSG said...

I would have thought there were 44,000 ministers, evangelists, apostles, disciples, bishops, master bishops, and reverend doctor master bishops in my rural county alone.

Proteios1 said...

Maybe this isn't so bad. Once congress loses the ability to legislate tax breaks, we can get that flat tax and reduce the irs to 4 guys with calculators.

How the freedom from reason foundation is not classified as a hate group is beyond me. If any other group when through laws and any civil action to purge any remnant of Homosexuality, race or other issue whe way these unreasonable hate mangers do, they would inevitably be on the southern poverty "law" centers hit list.

Lynda said...

Surely, Catholic clergy aren't employed by anyone and don't get paid for doing a "job"? Surely, their parishioners, or all the parishioners in their diocese, donate to them to ensure they have their material needs met? Such monies ought not be taxable. Furthermore, priests are required for Catholics to practise their Faith - the state ought not do anything that might impede this constitutional right.

Mary De Voe said...

Statement of Justice Stephen G. Breyer -- July 15, 2002
steady judicial compensation would help to secure that necessary independence. would receive a compensation that could not be —diminished. The Framers deliberately connected judicial compensation and judicial independence. From The Supreme Court website.
As a citizen you have paid your fair share of taxes. Your taxes have been paid. You buy an engagement ring for your beloved with your after taxes money, Now, your beloved must pay taxes on her engagement ring.
The ring is a gift, a material manifestation of your transcendent love for your beloved. Donations, living stipends, gifts, bequests and compensation are not taxable income. They are free will donations, living stipends, gifts, bequests and compensation. The parishioners have paid the income taxes on their donations, stipends, gifts, compensations and bequests.
Priests and religious are ministers of the Word of God. Priests will minister to the Word of God with or without recompense. Priests are not employees of God or of the Church or of any parish. Priests are independent non-profits of one person, who must find a bishop to accept their ministry just as judges must be appointed to the bench to administer JUSTICE.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ought to know this as this judge is given compensation upon which she pays no taxes. All Supreme Court Justices are given compensation for administering JUSTICE. There is no salary or pay roll or employee deductions or taxes from gifts, donations, living stipends, bequest and compensation.
Slowly the courts are eroding the difference between church and state and all must become beasts of burden to atheism which denies the human soul. There is no fee for administering TRUTH and Justice or any virtue such as CHARITY. With the power to tax priests, the state will silence priests and redefine and outlaw morality.
and does the Freedom from Religion Foundation pay taxes on their donations received? What a bunch of mealy mouthed hypocrites.

Mary De Voe said...

Justice is predicated on intent. The morality, the good or the evil of an action, such as the will to live is predicated on intent. The personification of the Person of God’s perfect Justice, each and every judge and Justice in the nation, must predicate his or her decisions on Divine Wisdom. Human wisdom fails and, like man, human Justice is imperfect and fails. To be satisfied with imperfect Justice is the epitome of atheism. “God save this court” is more than an act of piety, it is man’s admission that he does not have the power to judge another man.
Justice, the virtue of Justice, is enabling and carrying out Divine Justice through Divine Wisdom. Justice, Divine and human Justice, is predicated on intent.
Therefore, U. S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb, judging all priests in a class action suit to remove their non-profit status and make their donations, free will offering, gifts, contributions and compensation unconstitutional, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the priest intends to profit from his ministries, donations, stipends, free will offerings, gifts, contributions and compensation.
The burden of proof is on The Freedom from Religion Foundation. The burden of proof has not been met. The Freedom from Religion Foundation itself pays no taxes on its donations and contributions, received, and considers itself a non-profit organization. Judge Barbara Crabb pays no taxes on her compensation for delivering Justice.
Because the independent priest does not qualify under the law as a non-profit organization of one person, does not and cannot mean that his ministry is intended to net a profit. The priest himself donates himself to a dioceses as a gift, a free will offering, a contribution. To tax a priest would be taxing the free will offering, a gift, to a dioceses.
Or does the Freedom from Religion Foundation pretend to know the intent of the priest whose occupation is religion? This is nothing less than the devil being foistered on the nation by atheism.
“or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” means even a little bit.

Mary De Voe said...

Article III - The Judicial Branch
Section 1 - Judicial powers
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
Statement of Justice Stephen G. Breyer -- July 15, 2002
steady judicial compensation would help to secure that necessary independence. would receive a compensation that could not be —diminished. The Framers deliberately connected judicial compensation and judicial independence. From The Supreme Court website.

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Eh. Most Catholic clergy are Democrats anyway. Let 'em pay taxes.

Svetlana said...

Essentially this discriminates against any "church" that does not have a parsonage (which is what the law was created to address). this is getting appealed.

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