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Suit against housing allowance dismissed
Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources
July 01, 2011
3 MIN READ TIME

Suit against housing allowance dismissed

Suit against housing allowance dismissed
Roy Hayhurst, GuideStone Financial Resources
July 01, 2011

DALLAS (BP) — A lawsuit in federal court challenging the minister’s

housing allowance has ended, according to a report from GuideStone Financial

Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The challenge to the minister’s housing allowance tax

exclusion was dismissed June 17, in the Federal

District Court for the Eastern District of

California in Sacramento.

The case, Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Geithner, was

originally filed in 2009.

The case was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs in

light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2011 on the issue of standing, a

legal concept that only parties who have been directly harmed by a statute can

challenge its constitutionality. Because the plaintiffs are not directly

impacted by Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code — the section that governs

the housing allowance exclusion — they do not have the standing to challenge

it.

“This is the most recent challenge to the minister’s housing

allowance exclusion,” said O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial

Resources. “We remain committed to making known to Congress the importance of

the minister’s housing allowance and will continue to work with other church

pension boards in Washington to

keep this important tax benefit for ministers.”

The minister’s housing allowance is among the most important

tax benefits available to ministers. Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code

allows “ministers of the gospel” to exclude some or all of their ministerial

income — as designated by their church or church-related employer — as a

housing allowance from income for federal income tax purposes.

Rules and limits are discussed in a special Q&A at www.GuideStone.org/housingallowance.

“GuideStone, along with other denominational pension boards,

filed friend-of-the-court briefs in another case in 2002 challenging the

constitutionality of the housing allowance exclusion, and we continue to work

to ensure the housing allowance is maintained for all pastors,” Hawkins said.

“We are especially aware of how important this benefit is to those pastors at

the crossroads, in rural areas where their housing and lower income would make

a new tax burden particularly onerous.”

While there are no further challenges to the housing

allowance exclusion in process, GuideStone remains vigilant, Hawkins said.

“Moving forward, we can expect more challenges, either

through other court cases or through the legislative process, to the housing

allowance exclusion,” he said. “One of the sacred trusts we have at GuideStone

is to stand as an advocate for the pastors we serve. It is our privilege to

help serve those who serve the Lord in these important matters.”

Suit against housing allowance dismissed
Roy Hayhurst, Baptist Press
June 23, 2011
3 MIN READ TIME

Suit against housing allowance dismissed

Suit against housing allowance dismissed
Roy Hayhurst, Baptist Press
June 23, 2011

DALLAS — A

lawsuit in federal court challenging the minister’s housing allowance has

ended, according to a report from GuideStone Financial Resources of the

Southern Baptist Convention.

The challenge to the minister’s housing allowance tax exclusion was dismissed

Friday, June 17, in the Federal District Court

for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento.

The case, Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Geithner, was originally filed in

2009. The case was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs in light of a U.S.

Supreme Court decision in 2011 on the issue of standing, a legal concept that

only parties who have been directly harmed by a statute can challenge its

constitutionality. Because the plaintiffs are not directly impacted by Section

107 of the Internal Revenue Code — the section that governs the housing allowance

exclusion — they do not have the standing to challenge it.

“This is the most recent challenge to the minister’s housing allowance

exclusion,” said O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources. “We

remain committed to making known to Congress the importance of the minister’s

housing allowance and will continue to work with other church pension boards in

Washington to keep this important

tax benefit for ministers.”

The minister’s housing allowance is among the most important tax benefits available

to ministers. Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code allows “ministers of the

gospel” to exclude some or all of their ministerial income — as designated by

their church or church-related employer — as a housing allowance from income

for federal income tax purposes. Rules and limits are discussed in a special

Q&A on GuideStone’s website, www.GuideStone.org/housingallowance.

“GuideStone, along with other denominational pension boards, filed

friend-of-the-court briefs in another case in 2002 challenging the

constitutionality of the housing allowance exclusion, and we continue to work

to ensure the housing allowance is maintained for all pastors,” Hawkins said. “We

are especially aware of how important this benefit is to those pastors at the

crossroads, in rural areas where their housing and lower income would make a

new tax burden particularly onerous.”

While there are no further challenges to the housing allowance exclusion in

process, GuideStone remains vigilant, Hawkins said.

“Moving forward, we can expect more challenges, either through other court

cases or through the legislative process, to the housing allowance exclusion,”

he said. “One of the sacred trusts we have at GuideStone is to stand as an

advocate for the pastors we serve. We also serve as advocates with churches in

helping them understand the most advantageous way to develop a compensation

plan, as well as within the corridors of power in Washington and elsewhere. It

is our privilege to help serve those who serve the Lord in these important

matters.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hayhurst is editorial services manager for GuideStone

Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)