A case coming before a federal appeals court could have a financial impact on pastors and churches across the country. The dispute involves a tax provision that allows ordained ministers (of any religion, not just Christians) to exclude a portion of their ministry-related gross income from the federal income tax.
In a lower court, the Freedom From Religion Foundation argued that the Clergy Housing Allowance constitutes an unconstitutional government preference for religion. Last fall, a District judge in Wisconsin agreed with the foundation, but her ruling has been on hold as the case now heads to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, arguing in favor of the housing allowance, filed its opening brief (PDF) with the Seventh Circuit last week. Meanwhile, the legal advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom is urging pastors and any other church staff members who receive a housing allowance to sign a friend-of-the court brief in the case. Today (Monday, April 23) is the deadline to sign.