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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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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