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Seventh Circuit: Clergy Housing Allowance Is Constitutional

Section 107(2) of the Tax Code allows ministers who rent or own their own homes to receive an annual housing allowance from their employing church—and not pay federal income taxes on the designated amounts. The provision was adopted by Congress in 1954 after clergy from a variety of faith traditions indicated there was unequal tax treatment for those who were not provided a parsonage from their employing house of worship. In 2017, a federal district judge in Wisconsin ruled in favor of the leaders of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) who argued the housing allowance exclusively benefits ministers, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. On Friday afternoon, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago reversed this decision.

NONPROFIT LAW NEWSFEED

After Scandal, Higher Ed Fundraisers Fear Efforts to Curtail Deductions

The Chronicle of Philanthropy  Higher-education fundraisers and advocates are concerned that the Varsity Blues college-admissions scandal could spark a wave of efforts to curtail tax breaks for giving to universities, which would have a huge impact on their revenue.

Betsy DeVos Strikes a Blow for Religious Freedom

National Review  The secretary has announced that the Department of Education will no longer discriminate against religious organizations seeking to provide school services.

University of Maryland Medical System pays members of volunteer board hundreds of thousands in business deals

The Baltimore Sun  Nine members of the University of Maryland Medical System’s Board of Directors — including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh — have business deals with the hospital network that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each, a review by The Baltimore Sun has found.

Taxes and penalties may await wealthy parents in college admissions scam

CNBC  Wealthy parents ensnared in a massive college admissions scheme may have another worry on the horizon: the IRS.

Affordable Housing Sales Tax Exemption Passes House

The Suburban Times  A tax break for non-profits who build affordable housing passed the state House Monday by a vote of 95-1.

NewSpring Church denies liability for volunteer accused of child sex abuse

Baptist News Global  A Southern Baptist megachurch in South Carolina says it is not responsible for actions of a former volunteer criminally accused of sexually assaulting preschool boys inside a church bathroom while security cameras rolled.

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case on Church Repairs Using Tax Money

The New York Times  The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not hear a case about whether a New Jersey county could allow churches to participate in grant programs for historic preservation even though the State Constitution forbids using tax money “for building or repairing any church.”

Nonprofit Parkettes sues Allentown over $62,333 tax bill

The Morning Call  The Parkettes, an elite nonprofit gymnastics organization in Allentown, has sued the city, claiming it was illegally billed $62,333 for business privilege taxes.

Congressional Democrats reintroduce the Do No Harm Act

NBC News  Congressional Democrats reintroduced on Thursday an amendment to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that aims to ensure the 1993 legislation is not used to permit discrimination in the name of religion.

Giving Up Slightly in 2018, But Only Due to Larger Gifts

Association of Fundraising Professionals  Giving increased by 1.6% in 2018, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2018 Fourth Quarter Report, with philanthropic gains being dr

After Scandal, Higher Ed Fundraisers Fear Efforts to Curtail Deductions

The Chronicle of Philanthropy  Higher-education fundraisers and advocates are concerned that the Varsity Blues college-admissions scandal could spark a wave of efforts to curtail tax breaks for giving to universities, which would have a huge impact on their revenue.

Betsy DeVos Strikes a Blow for Religious Freedom

National Review  The secretary has announced that the Department of Education will no longer discriminate against religious organizations seeking to provide school services.