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View Diary: Fed Court: Ministers now have to pay income tax on their "free housing" (323 comments)

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  •  Wow do you not get it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, VClib, Catte Nappe

    The housing exemption is not about ministers being tax-free; in fact, many ministers pay more in taxes than other employees because they are considered self-employed rather than an employee.  This means paying both the employee part of FICA and the employer.  

    In part, many ministers, who have to move from locale to locale were unable to build up the same sort of equity in a home that people could do when staying in one place - and so, this was meant to shield some small part of the benefit package (all of which had to be justified as a true house expense) to make it affordable to live in a home.

    You are vastly mistaken about what this housing-exemption means, so doing some research would be helpful.

    It's like watching an unknown winning a boxing match vs. the world champ and asking him halfway why he didn't knock his opponent out in the first round.

    by bsmcneil on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:18:15 AM PST

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    •  I don't see the problem still (0+ / 0-)

      All the church needs to do is charge the minimum rent and then up the preacher's pay accordingly.  (I don't see how a full-time minister is "self-employed" any more than any other full-time-contract employee can be, but that's beside this point.) The minister's rent payment returns to the church as income, and his increased pay is expensed. Yeah, the payroll tax might go up a little--but so then would the benefits in retirement.  Equity in home?  Well, that's what savings are for--even if he doesn't pay rent (and gets paid less) he has to save if he wants a down payment.

      "THERE IS NO JUSTICE. THERE IS JUST US." spoken by Death in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

      by Sailorben on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 12:25:36 AM PST

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      •  OK I see where my thinking fails.. (0+ / 0-)

        After reading much of the discussion I realized I was assuming that this involved church-owned property, and of course it doesn't always these days.  So the rent money wouldn't be returning to the church.  That's a bind, and yes it's tough on little churches and low-paid ministers.  

        My big gripe about taxes isn't this kind of situation, anyway. It's the business interests and income properties that some churches own.  There's a speculation out there that the Catholic Church owns half of Chicago so the rest of the city and its people have to pay double the taxes to cover for it.  I have no idea how much the Church actually owns but it's definitely huge, makes a LOT of money that mostly goes to the Vatican, and leaves that much of the tax burden on everyone else.  Then there are all the other churches and their business interests.  Yes, they do charity; so do others who pay taxes on their business income.

        If they'd just confine tax breaks to the immediate "center of worship" and in some cases, retreats/youth camps, it wouldn't be such a problem and there wouldn't be this level of resentment.  And the little churches and their low-paid ministry wouldn't be getting hit like this.

        I think the core tax breaks are important to give a little leverage to the church/state separation matter. Not that many churches aren't violating that right and left anyway without IRS consequences, the only punishment available. :(

        "THERE IS NO JUSTICE. THERE IS JUST US." spoken by Death in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

        by Sailorben on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 12:55:57 AM PST

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