This morning the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in the case involving the constitutionality of the ministerial housing allowance. Since 1954, a tax rule has allowed a “minister of the gospel” to be exempt from income tax on compensation that is part of a housing allowance. The IRS has interpreted the term “minister of the gospel” to include a whole range of religious leaders not restricted to Christian ministers.
The three judge panel of Seventh Circuit–Judges Bauer, Brennan, and Manion–heard the Freedom From Religion’s challenge to this important tax benefit which is enjoyed by tens of thousands of religious leaders across the country. Those challenging the decades old tax benefit argued that it is unconstitutional as an impermissible establishment of religion. Those defending the housing allowance defended the housing allowance as advancing a number of secular purposes including the purpose of keeping the government out of religious questions relating to how central a minister’s use of his or her living space is to the religious organization’s mission and activities.
Dalton & Tomich attorney Noel Sterett attended the oral argument and co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief with Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erik Stanley on behalf of 8,899 pastors in support of the housing allowance.
While the housing allowance was well-defended at oral argument this morning, religious groups should pay close attention to this case and seek both legal and tax guidance on how best to compensate their ministers.
Dalton & Tomich, PLC is the national leader in successfully helping churches, other religious institutions and their insurers defend their rights in land use and zoning matters under RLUIPA, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. We have helped clients win cases against municipalities and other local government bodies from coast to coast, with experience serving both as general counsel and special litigation counsel.
In 2015, Hope Rising Community Church experienced extreme opposition, the kind that would force it to close its doors and leave behind the families and youth it was so passionate about reaching. As the lead pastor I felt helpless, inferior and as if I had no […]Read More
Dalton & Tomich’s assistance in our RLUIPA matter has paved the way for our church to continue serving the community and for new churches in the area to thrive in the future. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your stand for religious […]Read More
The Urban Church will be forever grateful to Dalton & Tomich plc for navigating it through a difficult land use issue. Let them give you honest and caring advice because that’s exactly what they’ll do.Read More
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Dalton & Tomich, PLC helped us immensely in the areas of litigation and negotiation! Their professionalism and understanding of church policy helped our church be victorious in a modern day religious land use battle. RLUIPA Religious Land Use Case: Lighthouse Community Church of GodRead More
Dalton & Tomich, PLC serves as General Counsel for the 144 churches within the Church of God in Michigan. The firm provides the legal expertise we need in dealing with the issues that arise during the course of fulfilling our ministry.Read More
I met Dan Dalton during a dark time for our church. He was recommended as the leading RLUIPA attorney in the nation. He demonstrated wisdom, expertise, a gentle nature, a calming inter-relational skill, genuineness, and a humble demeanor, while at the same time, being sharp, […]Read More
Mr. Dalton’s expertise and experience helped us through a very difficult legal journey, ultimately achieving a favorable outcome. His personal interest in helping our church went “above and beyond” just the call of duty. His understanding of both legal and spiritual matters seems to uniquely […]Read More