December 26, 2017
A federal district court judge in Wisconsin, as expected, has entered a final order declaring the minister’s housing allowance unconstitutional. The Dec. 13 order, however, has been stayed for 180 days after all appeals are exhausted, meaning it currently does not have any impact.
Observers expect the government to appeal the order by Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin, who issued her ruling on Oct. 6 following a 2013 ruling she issued that was overturned.
The minister’s housing allowance exclusion, allows churches to designate part of eligible ministers’ income as a tax-free housing allowance. Thus, as codified as part of a 1954 law, the housing allowance permits “ministers of the [g]ospel” to exclude for federal income tax purposes a portion or all of their gross income as a housing allowance. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has interpreted the law broadly to include religious workers of various faiths as “ministers of the [g]ospel.” Read the rest of this entry