At year’s end, we often reflect on lessons learned and experiences shared, and also on those people and the things for which we are grateful. In a break from our usual fare, what follows is a more personal reflection from our law firm’s attorney Jonathan Hwang on some aspects of the unique nature and culture of Wagenmaker & Oberly.
As part of the big tax reform law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump late last year (the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act), provisions were added that relate to certain fringe benefits provided by tax-exempt employers to their employees. Those provisions are effective for the year 2018. One provision, new Section 512(a)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code, says that tax-exempt employers (churches, charities, etc.) must treat as unrelated business taxable income the cost of providing parking to their employees, subject to IRS guidance. What that means in plain language is that Congress created a federal income tax on the cost of employee parking provided by churches, charities, and other nonprofits.
Orr Not: Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine Bars Pastor’s Claims Arising from Internal Sexual Harassment Investigation
Illinois Courts continue to respect ecclesiastical boundaries in matters of internal church governance. This year, an Illinois court ruled a pastor disciplined for sexual harassment could not seek judicial relief arising from his church denomination’s internal investigation of a sexual harassment claim against him. Instead, the court deferred to the religious institution’s internal mechanisms as a matter of First Amendment “ecclesiastical abstention,” since all statements at issue were made within such internal church proceedings.