The United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of maintaining the housing allowance for ministers when they ruled the application of current law did not constitute a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. This is good news for all qualifying ministers, in that they can continue to exclude from taxable wages all funds received and actually used to provide a personal residence for themselves and their family.
The ruling comes as a bit of surprise to some in the religious community. Nevertheless, unless and until the plaintiffs in the case chose to appeal the ruling, the housing allowance is safe for the moment. Given the current composition of the Supreme Court, a reversal of the Seventh Circuit decision would seem unlikely at the moment. But one thing is certain, litigation over the legitimacy of religious exemptions will continue. Churches and exempt religious institutions must remain vigilant to the legal challenges and should regularly review their internal practices to ensure they remain compliant with the rules and regulations governing their activities so as not to give any additional reasons for further challenges to the special exemptions we all currently enjoy under the law.
As always if we at CMA can be of any assistance to your ministry on issues of compliance we are only a phone call or e-mail away.
At the bottom of the original copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress ordered copies first be sent to parish ministers who were instructed to read the entire declaration to their respective congregations.
Ministerial Housing Allowance
On March 15, 2019, in a widely anticipated opinion, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a lower federal district court, which had ruled in late 2017 against the longstanding housing allowance for ministers. In reversing the lower court decision, the appeals court likened the ministers' housing allowance to other similar benefits in the tax code for work-related housing, finding the provision permissible under the First Amendment and well-established legal precedent. (
aising Funds for Short-term
Summer is just around the corner and many churches and mission organizations have begun putting together short-term mission trip opportunities for their congregations and donors. Whether it is spending several weeks in the inner city ministering to the homeless or sharing the Gospel in a foreign country where you don't know the language, the experience of living and ministering for a short time in a different environment without all the creature comforts of home can be both difficult and rewarding. (read more)
Retirement and Pension Fund
Limits for 2019
Every year the IRS considers whether or not the annual funding limitations on employer sponsored retirement or pension plans should be adjusted for inflation. For calendar year 2019 employers should be aware that the IRS has made the following adjustments.... (
15 Trends For Leaders to Expect in 2019
ECFA recently published a list of trends they suggest could have an impact in the very near future on individuals and ministries alike. The article makes for interesting reading and might be worth spending a few minutes in your next board or senior staff meeting reviewing it together to see if you might benefit from making any changes in your current practices. (read more)
Hiring Staff for Your Ministry...
Why and How You Should Ask About
Churches and religious organizations have been hiring (sometimes inadvertently) foreign nationals to work in their organizations for years. Whether or not you are actively considering hiring foreign workers you need to be aware that when you recruit (whether actively or inadvertently) for a position in your organization the U.S. government regards you as a prospective employer of foreign workers and requires you to play a role in enforcing U.S. immigration laws. (read more)
This information is provided with the understanding that CMA is not rendering tax, accounting, legal, or other professional advice. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a qualified CPA, attorney, or other professional.