Freedom From Religion Challenge To Parish Tax Exemptions Makes Progress

Encouraging news via Paliban Daily:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s challenge of “parish exemptions” has made it through a significant hurdle, with a federal judge in Sacramento, Calif., firmly turning back the Obama administration’s attempt to dismiss FFRF’s historic challenge of Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Section 107 says that “In the case of a minister of the gospel,” gross taxable income does not include the rental value of a home furnished as part of compensation or, notably, the housing allowance paid as part of compensation. Exempt under IRS readings of the 1952 law are furnishings, cost of utilities, garage and such “appurtenances” as swimming pools and home improvements.

U.S. District Judge William Shubb ruled that “plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts which, if accepted as true, ‘leave open the possibility’ that an objective observer would determine that Section 107 goes too far in aiding and subsidizing religion by providing ministers and churches with tangible financial benefits not allowed secular employers and employees.”

“We call it our sleeper lawsuit,” said Foundation Co-President Dan Barker, a former minister who himself once took advantage of the exemptions which favor only “ministers of the gospel.” Barker added: “We are confident that this 1952 law is unconstitutional, and that most Americans have no idea of the unfair privileges Congress grants ministers, and how these privileges are abused.”

The whole press release.

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