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RLBaty
2nd May 2011, 05:34 PM
Just about everyone who has an interest in such things is aware of various stories about how Nixon allegedly used the IRS to vex his "enemies".

One story that has yet to receive any popular media attention or discussion in the public square is how, during those infamous Nixon years, George Bush and Omar Burleson were able to compromise the IRS into administratively, contrary to facts and law, issue a ruling granting a tax cut to their religiously inclined constituency that continues to this day.

Officially it is known as Revenue Ruling 70-549.

Since 1970 when it was issued, after earlier administrative rulings had denied the requested tax cuts consistent with the facts and the law, the ruling's exploitation has grown considerably as more and more folks have been allowed to "pile on" and claim the benefit.

Following is a letter to the IRS, from the historical record, as transcribed by me, that reflects the Bush involvement and the turning point in compromising the IRS to issue a ruling contrary to the facts and the law so that those "basketball ministers" and other such employees at places like Pepperdine might claim the income tax free ministerial housing allowances:

-----------------------------

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

October 1, 1969

The Honorable
Paul W. Eggers
General Counsel
Department of the Treasury
15th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Mr. Eggers:

After GEORGE BUSH and I talked to you on the telephone yesterday,
the thought occurs that I should submit salient points in connection
with certain ministers' housing allowance, provided in section 107 of
the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.

Probably you are aware that the Church of Christ is a religious group
which has no central governing body, each congregation of the Church
being autonomous in its conduct. Of course, a doctrinal view is
followed but not one prescribed by an hierarchy. As a result, it
appears that such institutions as Abilene Christian College in
Abilene, Texas and a few other Church of Christ schools have not been
recognized as an "integral agency of a religious organization under
the authority of a church." The fact that ministers of the Church of
Christ are not formally ordained by any type of supervisory authority
seems to contribute further to the question of qualification under
section 1076, and referred to in Revenue Ruling 62-171.

Admittedly, Abilene Christian College is not organically connected to
the Church. In practice, however, this relation strictly exists.
The College and other like institutions do not employ any teachers
who are not members of the Church, and all Board of Trustee members
must be members of the Church in good standing. The school is
recognized by the Internal Revenue Service in its exemption from
income taxes and as a proper recipient of tax deductible donations.

As GEORGE BUSH mentioned to you on the telephone, I have
introduced legislation, a copy of which is enclosed, designed to
clarify the issue. If the matter could be resolved administratively,
however, the problem could be greatly simplified. I might point out
further that in the case of chaplains in the military, a certification from
the congregation from whence a chaplain comes, that he is a bona fide
minister of the gospel, is accepted as a qualification in the same
sense as ordination.

In truth and in fact, Abilene Christian College and the few other Church
of Christ colleges in the country are integral agencies of a religious
organization.

Teachers who are ministers perform their duties in accordance with the
purposes set forth in section 107 of the Internal Revenue Act of 1954.

The rentals on their homes are a part of their compensation They are
truly ministers of the Gospel and should qualify under the Law and
regulations the same as other religious bodies engaged in education.

Should you determine that we need to discuss this matter personally,
GEORGE has consented to request a meeting with you at your
convenience.

With kindest regards, I remain

Sincerely yours,
(signed)
Omar Burleson

OB:jsc
Enclosure

--------------------------------
--------------------------------

Puppycow
2nd May 2011, 11:31 PM
So, the upshot is that ministers can receive a cash housing allowance as part of their income tax-free whereas say an employee of a secular non-profit organization could not?

If true, this is another outrageous example of pro-religion favoritism.

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 05:46 AM
If true, this is another outrageous example
of pro-religion favoritism.



This is another outrageous example of pro-religion favoritism.

See Establishment Clause.

The recently released Grassley Report (wherein Senator Grassley deferred to a private, religious think-tank to think about it, rather than take action to cure the inherent defects and abuses of IRC 107) noted the following by way of example:

> "According to a report in the L.A. Times,
> televangelist Paul F. Crouch, president of
> Trinity Broadcasting Network, makes a habit
> of ordaining the network‘s station managers
> and department heads as ministers so that
> they could deduct 100% of their housing
> costs as a ―parsonage allowance."

and

> "Committee staff first became aware of potential
> abuses in the classification of the ministers when
> the Volunteers of America (VoA) responded to your
> March 24, 2005, letter. In its response, VoA
> explained that it is an ecumenical Christian church
> and is classified as a church or a convention or
> association of churches. After receiving this response,
> a VoA insider met with Committee staff. The insider
> provided a list of almost 200 employees who were
> designated as ―ministers‖ for tax purposes."

In paragraph #35 of its Complaint challenging the constitutionality of IRC 107, the FFRF alleges, in relevant part:

> "35. In order to administer and apply Sections 107
> ...the IRS and the Treasury must make sensitive,
> fact-intensive, intrusive, and subjective determinations
> dependent on religious criteria and inquiries, such as
> whether...a Christian college or other organization is
> "under the authority of" a church or denomination.
> These and other determinations result in "excessive
> entanglement" between church and state contrary
> to the Establishment Clause."

The Government is in the process of filing a motion to try and get the FFRF and its related plaintiffs denied "standing" to challenge the law. Hopefully that effort will fail inasmuch as the FFRF case is factually and legally distinguishable from Winn; though many seem to think the Winn decision has spelled "doom" for the FFRF effort.

(It is interesting that Senator Grassley, a Baptist, was one of the sponsorts of the bill 10 years ago that allowed Baptist Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church and "The Purpose Driven Life" to win his $80,000.00 a year housing allowance case and prevent the 9th Circuit from taking up the constitutional question regarding IRC 107. Erwin Chemerinsky has noted how unusual such intervention by Congress and the President in a pending case was and how speedily they were able to legislate relief. Unfortunately, Chemerinsky never got around to filing a separate challenge of IRC 107 as advised by the 9th Circuit and as he pledged to do; that task having now been taken up by the FFRF - Freedom From Religion Foundation.)

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 06:06 AM
Some may also recall the recent stories surrounding the bankruptcy of Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral. Those stories noted how insiders there would be ordained in order that they could take out $100,000.00 + income tax free housing allowances.

And many other such examples could be given!

The Central Scrutinizer
3rd May 2011, 07:16 AM
tl;dr

JoeTheJuggler
3rd May 2011, 09:13 AM
I read an article in a recent issue of Church & State (the newsletter of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State) about a parish that had a house that used to be used for a tax-exempt assistant pastor, but they tried to continue getting the tax break when it became the groundskeeper's house. After the city denied their application for tax exempt status (after they finally learned that it no longer housed the assistant pastor), the church sued. The judge at least ruled that this goes beyond the tax exempt statute.

The church's lawyers argued that the statute should be expanded to include the residences of anyone “integral to the functioning of the church." (And who knows where that line would ever be drawn!)

The case was Wauwatosa Ave. United Methodist Church v. City of Wauwatosa. The lower court's decision was affirmed on appeal (http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=41828).

Give 'em an inch and they'll take an ell! (Though I agree with the OP that the statute itself is wrong. Subsidizing clerics' residences is more than giving them an inch!)

ETA: Bit of a goof here: this lawsuit was over a Wisconsin state law that preceded the Bush law by decades. Doubtless, it was a model for the federal law Bush lobbied for.

randman
3rd May 2011, 10:10 AM
I read an article in a recent issue of Church & State (the newsletter of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State) about a parish that had a house that used to be used for a tax-exempt assistant pastor, but they tried to continue getting the tax break when it became the groundskeeper's house. After the city denied their application for tax exempt status (after they finally learned that it no longer housed the assistant pastor), the church sued. The judge at least ruled that this goes beyond the tax exempt statute.

The church's lawyers argued that the statute should be expanded to include the residences of anyone “integral to the functioning of the church." (And who knows where that line would ever be drawn!)

The case was Wauwatosa Ave. United Methodist Church v. City of Wauwatosa. The lower court's decision was affirmed on appeal (http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=41828).

Give 'em an inch and they'll take an ell! (Though I agree with the OP that the statute itself is wrong. Subsidizing clerics' residences is more than giving them an inch!)

ETA: Bit of a goof here: this lawsuit was over a Wisconsin state law that preceded the Bush law by decades. Doubtless, it was a model for the federal law Bush lobbied for.
The tax code favors a lot of people. Nothing new there. At least the reasoning behind not taxing minister's income for housing has some legitimate historical basis. The idea is the State cannot tax religion. Separation goes both ways here.

Now, it is true that a minister not only gets a tax free housing allowance but can still take a tax deduction on mortgage interest. But that's because of the way the mortgage interest deduction is set up.

Maybe homeowners should not be favored over renters. I think there is a good argument to be made it's unfair to renters.

Also keep in mind most ministers don't make that much money. There are relatively few cases of the rich preacher taking advantage of the tax law but even there, as far as the law goes, it's not incumbent on anyone to pay more taxes than is required under the law.

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 11:36 AM
Joe,

Your comments appear related to property tax exemptions, not income tax exemptions.

There have been many such stories in recent months/years about the growing discontent over property tax exemptions claimed by churches (e.g., is one house for one minister enough...10 for 10 employees...one car...10 cars).

That folks are beginning to question and, with some success, limit the property tax exemptions claimed by churches is just another angle on a continuing problem.

Also, Revenue Ruling 70-549 is simply an administrative decision, not a "law". It simply reflects an opinion by the IRS regarding how they are going to allow the income tax benefit to "basketball ministers" at places like Pepperdine; based on Pepperdine, et al, being considered "integral agencies" of the church.

Such administrative rules are supposed to be consistent with the facts and the law. In fact, and in law, Pepperdine, et al, are not integral agencies of the church.

JoeTheJuggler
3rd May 2011, 11:38 AM
The tax code favors a lot of people. Nothing new there.
Does that mean it always does so in a proper way? Or that we can't criticize unfair tax rules?

As an aside, I refuse to answer any of your questions until you answer my question on your recent Birther thread.

JoeTheJuggler
3rd May 2011, 12:11 PM
Your comments appear related to property tax exemptions, not income tax exemptions.

Yep.



There have been many such stories in recent months/years about the growing discontent over property tax exemptions claimed by churches (e.g., is one house for one minister enough...10 for 10 employees...one car...10 cars).

That folks are beginning to question and, with some success, limit the property tax exemptions claimed by churches is just another angle on a continuing problem.

Also, Revenue Ruling 70-549 is simply an administrative decision, not a "law". It simply reflects an opinion by the IRS regarding how they are going to allow the income tax benefit to "basketball ministers" at places like Pepperdine; based on Pepperdine, et al, being considered "integral agencies" of the church.

Such administrative rules are supposed to be consistent with the facts and the law. In fact, and in law, Pepperdine, et al, are not integral agencies of the church.

But, given recent SCOTUS decisions, who has standing to get the courts to review these rules? (See Brown's informative thread on standing and the Supreme Court.)

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 12:21 PM
But, given recent SCOTUS decisions,
who has standing to get the courts
to review these rules?

(See Brown's informative thread on
standing and the Supreme Court.)



I think my comments are the last entry on that thread.

The FFRF, hopefully, will fully and aggressively prosecute their rebuttal to the Government's motion to dismiss, in light of Winn, and demonstrate the factual and legal distinction between the challenge to IRC 107 and the Arizona thing.

The 9th Circuit, in Warren, already indicated its willingness to consider the IRC 107 issue.

Hopefully, the FFRF will be able to sustain the "standing" that Judge Shubb has already granted despite the earlier effort, before Winn, to have the case dismissed for lack of "standing".

The FFRF IRC 107 challenge is worthy of much more media attention and popular public debate than it has been given.

randman
3rd May 2011, 12:30 PM
If we adopt some version of the FairTax, this would all be a moot point.

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 12:33 PM
(I)t is true that a minister not only gets a tax
free housing allowance but can still take a tax
deduction on mortgage interest. But that's
because of the way the mortgage interest
deduction is set up.



Not quite, but close! :D

The IRS tried to eliminate that "double dip" (excluding the income and still taking the deduction) some years ago.

Congress and the President acted to preserve the "double dip"; by legislating the "double dip" instead of relying on IRS administrative whim.

The FFRF sought to have that law considered in its lawsuit challenging IRC 107, but Judge Shubb, properly I think, ruled that such would not be appropriate and so dismissed the suit as it related to the "double dip" statute.

I agree with Judge Shubb on that because if IRC 107 is struck down then the "double dip" issue is mooted. Similarly, if IRC 107 cannot be struck down on Establishment Clause grounds, there's no hope in using the Establishment Clause to try and strike down the "double dip".

Many folks bring up the military, which has separate laws for allowing the military tax exempt housing and the double dip. The significant legal difference is there is no Establishment Clause issue when it comes to allowing the military exempt housing and the double dip. You might not, for political, social, economic, et al, reasons like the military allowance, but it does not suffer from any Establishment Clause problem.

In the case of "basketball ministers" and the like, were it not for that "religious test", anyone being compensated could have all or part of their income designated as housing and claim the exemption.

Hence the Establishment Clause challenge to IRC 107 as recognized by the recently released Grassley Report (whereby Grassley "copped out" and deferred to a private, religious, think tank which has indicated it will be years in thinking about such things).

The "standing" issue should be ready for Judge Shubb's decision by July 4, 2011. I do hope he is able to distinguish the FFRF case from Winn and rule that he will continue to recognize "standing" as to the FFRF and/or one or more of the other plaintiffs in that case.

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 12:40 PM
If we adopt some version of the FairTax,
this would all be a moot point.



I think that is what some might propose is a "pipe dream"!

One dream is that some version is adopted.

Another dream is that any such version would not provide for a housing exemption for the "basketball ministers" and such.

That some have their dreams is no justification for failing to act regarding the ills of IRC 107. There was no justification, in my opinion, for Grassley refusing to act to cure the ills of IRC 107 which could easily be done.

Of course, there is very good reason for Grassley not to have acted. The issue is too hot for either Republicans or Democrats and its easier to let the FFRF, currently, take any heat for proposing that IRC should be done away with. (See history of the Rick Warren housing case for proof as to the inclinations of both parties to preserve the housing allowance and its ills.)

mhaze
3rd May 2011, 04:50 PM
....Following is a letter to the IRS, from the historical record, as transcribed by me, ....

Prove it, dude.

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 06:13 PM
Prove it, dude.



Typical skeptical attitude! :boxedin:

Such forums as this are hardly conducive to the sort of "proof" the poster seems to be requesting.

Haze,

Is there something in particular in my alleged transcription that you wish to discuss?

Of course, if you wish and have a serious interest in such things, you can easily contact Abilene Christian University directly and try to find a knowledgeable sort there that might confirm or deny my report.

Feel free to drop my name and bring us back a report as to what kind of reaction you get. ;)

That could be interesting inasmuch as Abilene, et al, typically are reluctant to publicly discuss the extent to which they have managed to exploit 70-549.

There are, however, public records which give valuable insight into just such exploitation.

There are also other records from the background file of 70-549 which provide further historical details regarding 70-549.

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 06:39 PM
Some here may remember Senator Tower and his exploits in the long ago.

Before Bush and Burleson put the squeeze on the IRS during the Nixon administration, Senator Tower had a hand in it. Following is another transcription of a document from the background file of Revenue Ruling 70-549:

> Letter from Lester Utter
> Chief, Individual Income Tax Branch
>
> to:
> John Tower
> United States Senate
>
> July 1968
>
> (excerpts)
>
> Xxxxxxx admits the correctness of
> our earlier rulings, which rest
> upon the fact that Xxxxxxxxx is not
> an integral agency of a religious
> organization under the authority
> of a religious body constituting a
> church or church denomination.

> We have carefully studied the
> informational material submitted
> and have found nothing therein
> to warrant a change in our
> position that the teaching services
> performed by the ordained ministers
> of the Xxxxxxxxxx are not services
> within the exercise of their ministry
> for purposes of qualifying for the
> home or rental allowance exclusion
> under section 107 of the Code.

> As requested, we are returning the
> copy of Xxxxxxx letter and the
> material he forwarded. Please
> advise us if we can be of any further
> service.

> signed
> Lester Utter

The IRS is entitled to some credit for trying to hold the line against the political pressure that was brought to bear, pressure that would probably be illegal today.

However, Bush and Burleson were successful in getting the IRS to compromise the law and prevent a public debate over legislation that would open the flood gates to the allowance of the ministerial housing allowance.

So, the flood gates were open without legislation, without public debate, and its been a pretty well kept secret for the last 40 years.

RLBaty
3rd May 2011, 07:01 PM
Feel free to drop my name and bring us back
a report as to what kind of reaction you get. ;)



For a little context, someone at ACU sent me the following note some time ago; which gave me a little feedback regarding matters I had been and continue to be quite uninformed:

> From: Xxxx Xxxxxxx
> To: RLBaty
> Date: Fri Oct 29, 2004
>
> Subject: A bit of ACU history has died
>
> (excerpts)
>
> Given your historical interest in ACU
> legal matters, I thought you should
> know that we have lost one of our
> professors who also served as associate
> general counsel; Charles Travathan.

> BTW Robert, he was one of the guys I
> have mentioned before who used to roll
> his eyes at the mention of your name.

Cute, huh! :blush:

JoelKatz
4th May 2011, 03:50 AM
There are very similar (and in some cases, better) deductions for non-religious organizations. See, for example, IRC 119(a)(2).
http://www.taxalmanac.org/index.php/Internal_Revenue_Code:Sec._119._Meals_or_lodging_f urnished_for_the_convenience_of_the_employer

Puppycow
4th May 2011, 06:07 AM
I read an article in a recent issue of Church & State (the newsletter of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State) about a parish that had a house that used to be used for a tax-exempt assistant pastor, but they tried to continue getting the tax break when it became the groundskeeper's house.

But your honor, he "ministers" to the plants you see!

I see no reason why a minister should not be treated as any other employee in the eyes of the law. If there is a distinction between the employees of NPOs and for-profit companies, then employees of secular NPOs should get the same treatment.

If I'm not mistaken, military members also receive a tax-exempt housing allowance (or they are provided with housing in a barracks or a rack on a ship if single). The reason is that military members are frequently ordered to move at the convenience of the government.

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 06:12 AM
> There are very similar (and in some cases, better)
> deductions for non-religious organizations.
>
> See, for example, IRC 119(a)(2).



IRC 119(a)(2) says:

> (2) in the case of lodging, the employee
> is required to accept such lodging on the
> business premises of his employer as a
> condition of his employment.

The only similarity I see is the exclusion from income.

Joel, do you have an actual example of what you consider to be the "better" benefit?

In the case of the "basketball minister" and such like, the housing is not required to be on the "business premises" and is not required as a condition of employment.

I think the fact of the matter is that "ministers" didn't want the restrictions of section 119 affecting them. They wanted the tax free housing...period; and they got it.

Without IRC 107, some churches and religious organizations and their "ministers" could structure their affairs without Establishment Clause concerns by having housing on-site and requiring the "minister" to live there as a condition of employment. In fact, some such organizations and their "ministers" are already so situated...though such circumstances have become less common in the modern age and "ministers" have preferred to not live under such circumstances.

IRC 107 is just for "ministers" and lacks any of the sorts of controls reflected in the military statutes and/or section 119:

United States Code

Title 26 (Internal Revenue Code - IRC)
Subtitle A
Chapter 1
Subchapter B
PART III

Section 107. Rental value of parsonages

In the case of a minister of the gospel, gross income does not include—

> (1) the rental value of a home
> furnished to him as part of his
> compensation; or

> (2) the rental allowance paid to
> him as part of his compensation,
> to the extent used by him to rent
> or provide a home and to the
> extent such allowance does not
> exceed the fair rental value of the
> home, including furnishings and
> appurtenances such as a garage,
> plus the cost of utilities.

One may have political, social and/or economic reasons for thinking tax exempt housing benefits are to be desired. However, when a "religious test" is set forth as the condition to obtaining it, Establishment Clause problems arise.

One might think it a good idea to allow Benny Hinn, et al, million dollar tax free housing benefits.

One might think it a good thing to allow the basketball coach at Pepperdine, et al, tax free housing.

However, to allow such benefits simply because they claim to be "ministers" raises the Establishment Clause issue which warrants a judicial test.

The Grassley Report took note of these problems. Grassley and his cohorts simply didn't have the political will to deal with them; which, I think, exemplifies the historical problem in trying to deal with the problems.

Puppycow
4th May 2011, 06:21 AM
IRC 119(a)(2) says:

> (2) in the case of lodging, the employee
> is required to accept such lodging on the
> business premises of his employer as a
> condition of his employment.

The only similarity I see is the exclusion from income.

Joel, do you have an actual example of what you consider to be the "better" benefit?


I would say that the tax break for ministers is a lot better. The housing allowance can be cash money, right? Can the minister use it to make his mortgage payments? A lot better than company lodging which does not become the employee's private property.

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 06:28 AM
I see no reason why a minister should not be treated
as any other employee in the eyes of the law.

If there is a distinction between the employees of
NPOs and for-profit companies, then employees of
secular NPOs should get the same treatment.



It would be very easy to eliminate the exclusive domain of "ministers" when it comes tax free housing benefits; and so eliminate the constitutional doubts about the law and its many widely known abuses.

It would be, relatively speaking, very easy to legislate away the ills of section 107 (e.g., allow the benefits to a broad range of taxpayers, of which "ministers" just happen to be one; limit the benefit to one house; limit the benefit to, say, $5,000.00 a year).

In any case, I think the proposal that IRC 107 is an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause cannot be successfully rebutted.

The problem is there is no political will to do anything about it legislatively, and unless "standing" is allowed by the judiciary, the Court will not be allowed to consider the matter.

So, as the Court has recently noted, we can have a situation where we have an admittedly unconstitutional law that "cannot be touched" because the legislative branch won't touch it and the public can't get the issue before the judiciary for "lack of standing".

Hopefully, the FFRF will be able to show that is not the case with reference to IRC 107, but the Government is going to be doing its' best to keep the FFRF and its other plaintiffs from being given "standing".

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 06:35 AM
I would say that the tax break for ministers
is a lot better.

The housing allowance can be cash money, right?

Can the minister use it to make his mortgage
payments? A lot better than company lodging
which does not become the employee's private
property.



I asked Joel for an example of what he is talking about regarding better benefits under section 119.

I'm with you, Pup, I don't see it; nowhere close!

The basketball coach at Pepperdine might have a hard time telling Pepperdine to build him a nice house on campus, to his specifications, and then require him to live there, without cost to him; but he would not, under 70-549, have a hard time registering as a "minister" and having Pepperdine designate all or part of his salary as "housing".

But whether or not you think the benefits are better one way or the other, the fact remains that ONLY the "minister" is allowed the section 107 benefits and that's where the Establishment Clause comes in to play.

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 06:45 AM
Another reference, to add context and support of certain of my comments, comes from one actual case involving a "basketball minister" at a Pepperdine-like school. The local IRS office had sought to deny the housing benefit and the case almost went to trial a number of times before the National Office pulled the plug and the Government conceded the case; reaffirming and solidifying the Bush Tax Cut affectionately known as Revenue Ruling 70-549.

Here's relevant excerpts from that case:

---------------------------------------

Xxxxx X. XXXX and
Xxxxx Xxxx Xxxx,

Petitioners,

v.

Commissioner of
Internal Revenue,

Respondent.

Docket No. 33686-83
U.S. Tax Court

Petition (excerpts)

4(a) The Commissioner erred in failing to recognize
Oklahoma Christian College ("OCC") as being an
integral agency of the churches (sic) of Christ..

(zz) Petitioner Xxxxx X. Xxxx approached the
elders of his congregation and requested that
he be certified as a minister of the gospel.

(aaa) In their letter dated April 26, 1978, the elders
of Petitioner Xxxxx X. Xxxx's congregation certified him
as being authorized to perform marriages, conduct
funerals and perform other services normally performed
by ministers of the gospel in churches (sic) of Christ.

(bbb) The letter...was filed of record in the office
of Court Clerk of Oklahoma County...

(eee) Mr. Xxxx's initital duties included serving as
head basketball coach and teaching courses in
physical education and coaching theory.

------------------------------------
------------------------------------

mhaze
4th May 2011, 03:50 PM
Typical skeptical attitude! :boxedin:

Such forums as this are hardly conducive to the sort of "proof" the poster seems to be requesting.
....

Right. I don't accept your word or your transcription as proof. That would be my believing what you say, and I do not know you and have no reason to believe anything you say.

So let's see some proof, dude. It is you that are making the claims, yet your proof at current is only your presumed credibility.

Scan the document, etc.

GO!

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 04:15 PM
Right.

I don't accept your word or your transcription as
proof.

That would be my believing what you say, and I
do not know you and have no reason to believe
anything you say.

So let's see some proof, dude.

It is you that are making the claims, yet your
proof at current is only your presumed credibility.

Scan the document, etc.

GO!



I don't know you either, or that you have any legitimate interests in this discussion.

It's of little consequence to me whether or not you accept my "say so" in these matters. If you have any legitimate interests, you can do your own homework and report back if you are interested in the discussion.

This is a discussion list, isn't it.

Look up my private e-mail address, send me a request, and I can send you a file with the Bush/Burleson letter to the IRS.

I don't do "scan". However, if there were some serious interest and a compelling reason for doing so, I would be glad to cooperate with any with such interests and see what I could do for them.

Anonymous inquisitors need not apply!

(P.S. In these days and times, would you really be impressed with an alleged scanned copy of the copy of the letter that I was sent in response to an FOIA request, or the file copy I could e-mail to you; any more than you are with my transcription thereof? Who believes that Bin Laden is really dead? :) )

mhaze
4th May 2011, 04:18 PM
I don't know you either, or that you have any legitimate interests in this discussion.

It's of little consequence to me whether or not you accept my "say so" in these matters. If you have any legitimate interests, you can do your own homework....

I'm not making claims, you are. You don't do scans, eh? Well, how are you going to provide reliable evidence for your claims?

RLBaty you are not the first person on these forums that made claims but didn't produce the source documents, and ducked and dodged the question of evidence.

Cheers!

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 04:26 PM
I'm not making claims, you are.

You don't do scans, eh?

Well, how are you going to provide reliable
evidence for your claims?

RLBaty you are not the first person on
these forums that made claims but didn't
produce the source documents, and ducked
and dodged the question of evidence.

Cheers!



I am more than willing to let those with such interest judge my credibility and engage the discussion, such as it is, or not.

As I said, if there are any serious interests who wish to pursue the matters such as you suggest and contact me privately, we can work on what interests they have in such things and how I might satisfy their interests.

Haze, you didn't say, do you believe Bin Laden is dead, and, if so, when did you come to believe that?

Haze, you also didn't say, what legitimate, good faith interest do you have in this discussion and the "proof" if you were satisfied that any such as might be provided to you would constitute "proof"?

Did you, Haze, call ACU and ask someone there, who should know, about how Bush and Burleson got them off the hook back in 1970?

Did you check with the Tax Court regarding the docket number I referenced regarding the "basketball minister".

I can lead you to the water, but I can't make you drink.

How am I going to provide evidence should there be a legitimate inquisitor worthy of such trouble? See my earlier response regarding my willingness to participate in that exchange.

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 04:42 PM
The thing at the bottom of the page says I can post attachments. So, maybe I'll try to post a copy of the Bush/Burleson letter.

Here goes:

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 04:44 PM
How about that! It seems to have worked!

For the skeptical sorts who may already be going over that thing with their magnifying glasses and all, I will note here that the original came in two pages.

I cut and pasted it together so it would all be on one long page.

Impressed? Think it "proves" anything?

JoelKatz
4th May 2011, 08:08 PM
Joel, do you have an actual example of what you consider to be the "better" benefit?This is better in at least the sense that it's not subject to SE tax either. It also doesn't figure into calculations of whether you're a dependent or not. For resident advisors, for example, this can make a huge difference.

In the case of the "basketball minister" and such like, the housing is not required to be on the "business premises" and is not required as a condition of employment.I just cited that section as one example. There are many other similar ways you can make a housing allowance exempt. The ministerial deduction is just one of them. I agree that it probably has the broadest scope, but it is also the narrowest benefit.

RLBaty
4th May 2011, 08:27 PM
(1)

This is better in at least the sense that it's not subject to SE tax either. It also doesn't figure into calculations of whether you're a dependent or not. For resident advisors, for example, this can make a huge difference.

(2)

I just cited that section as one example. There are many other similar ways you can make a housing allowance exempt. The ministerial deduction is just one of them. I agree that it probably has the broadest scope, but it is also the narrowest benefit.




(1)

I'm not sure what you are getting at there. Social Security tax, whether SECA (self-employment tax) or FICA (employee tax) are separate issues. Whether one is or is not a dependent is also separate from the housing issue. As to what all of that, and the subject of this thread, has to do with "resident advisors" is not revealed.

(2)

The broad scope of IRC 107 is a result of an assortment of rulings over the years, but it remains only available to those who meet the "religious test"; hence the Establishment Clause problems. In simple terms, it might have been originally justified from the mindset of those few, poor, pulpit preaching guys. Now we've got million-dollar "ministers", "basketball ministers", ad nauseum.

The "narrowness", if that is what you call it, is what raises the Establishment Clause issue; it's only allowed to those who meet the "religious test".

OK, I'll bite! We've mentioned IRC 107, 119, and the military benefit. Can you name some of the alleged "many other ways" commoners can make their housing exempt?

JoelKatz
4th May 2011, 09:51 PM
OK, I'll bite! We've mentioned IRC 107, 119, and the military benefit. Can you name some of the alleged "many other ways" commoners can make their housing exempt?There are a variety of way that can be used to make all or some portion of your housing expenses exempt from all or some portion of income taxes. Some of them are housing specific provisions (such as the deductability of home mortgage interest, the home office deductions, and so on) and some of them are generic provisions that can be used to cover housing (for example, if they're gifts, paid by scholarship, and so on).

I would also argue that it's silly to compare deductions by category in this way. Even if there aren't, for example, comparable housing deductions, there are other deductions that can achieve the same effect even though they apply to a different category of income. For example, your employer can use the money they would have paid for your housing to instead cover your health insurance (or fund a retirement plan or various other things), rendering the income tax exempt. You can then use the money you were paying for health insurance (or investing in your retirement or whatever) towards your housing. Both income and taxes are paid in fungible dollars, so it doesn't matter what the thing is for -- that's just which pocket it comes out of or goes into.

My point is not that this isn't a generous tax deduction that applies only to ministers. My point is that it's one of many tax deductions of various generosity that apply to various groups of people. It's not outrageous in the mix of things.

mhaze
4th May 2011, 11:06 PM
The thing at the bottom of the page says I can post attachments. So, maybe I'll try to post a copy of the Bush/Burleson letter.

Here goes:See how easy it is? That clears up quite a bit. Now I have read the source document, and the revenue ruling that concerned you. There are two aspects of this matter that I'll comment on.

For a revenue ruling of the IRS, political action, agitation, noting the injustice of the ruling, will have zero effect. That is one of thousands of such rulings. And they have varying effect, they are not law. At any time, they can change it, and deny it's application in a given circumstance. So to go after injustice in such a IRS ruling, in my opinion (and regardless of the righteousness of your cause) is a waste of time.

Secondly, the letter is ancillary to the above and is not material in the matter. You cannot link "george bush" with "bad ruling" and reverse or get consideration for the matter, it stands as it is: an administrative ruling. It is not even necessarily a bad thing, that a letter might be written by a politician to the IRS, and it might, or might not, affect their decision. Certainly, though, the existence of the letter does not lend "bad" to the ruling. I can think of many cases, where "good" effects occurred.

And I am sure that you recognize that many people would think the ruling was "good", but that you disagree with them.

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 06:36 AM
My point is not that this isn't a generous tax
deduction that applies only to ministers. My
point is that it's one of many tax deductions
of various generosity that apply to various
groups of people.

It's not outrageous in the mix of things.



Perhaps "outrageous" is not the best term to use.

The issue in dispute, as was raised in the Warren case and followed up by the FFRF in its suit, is whether or not it can withstand an Establishment Clause challenge.

A variety of tax and legal scholars have addressed that issue over the years; pointing out the legitimacy of calling the law in question on Establishment Clause grounds.

The recently released Grassley Report takes note of what most would consider abuses of the law (e.g., million dollar benefits and multi-house benefits) as well as the constitutional issue inherent in the law that allows its benefit only to "ministers".

Changes in IRC 107 appears to be years away.

Meanwhile, there seems to be increasing media coverage of what is happening around the country with reference to related, local matters (e.g., How many property tax exempt properties and under what conditions should a "church" or church agency be entitled to?).

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 06:49 AM
I am sure that you recognize that many
people would think the ruling was "good",
but that you disagree with them.



Where two or more are gathered together...you can expect differences of opinion about such things.

Some disagree with my perspective on such things, and then there are others with informed opinions that agree with me! ;)

Are there those here who would argue in favor of keeping the million-dollar, multi-house benefits currently allowed to a select group of high income "ministers"?

Are there those here who would argue in favor of allowing the same benefits to "ministers" who coach basketball, teach math, et al, at places like Pepperdine?

The Grassley Report takes note of such "problems" and suggests a remedy as well as expressing a concern about the constitutional issue more fundamental to the matter (e.g., Is the law itself a violation of the Establishment Clause?).

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 07:00 AM
(T)he letter is ancillary to the above and is not
material in the matter. You cannot link "george
bush" with "bad ruling" and reverse or get
consideration for the matter, it stands as it is:
an administrative ruling. It is not even necessarily
a bad thing, that a letter might be written by a
politician to the IRS, and it might, or might not,
affect their decision. Certainly, though, the
existence of the letter does not lend "bad" to the
ruling.



I notice that there is a lot of chat here and elsewhere and much attention from the media regarding the tedious details of what recenty occurred in Pakistan.

While, perhaps, having less importance, the details regarding the "rest of the story" as to Revenue Ruling 70-549 remain in the same status as those pictures everywhere being talked about.

The Bush/Burleson letter posted here is just one detail in a long sequence of events regarding how 70-549 came to be issued contrary to the facts and the law and in satisfaction and consequence of the pressure exerted on the IRS by Bush/Burleson.

Perhaps there will be an official, public, judicial notice of such things if the FFRF IRC 107 challenge is allowed to go forward and the Complaint paragraph #35 allegation is fully explored. Revenue Ruling 70-549 makes a good case study, in my opinion, in support of the FFRF paragraph #35 allegation.

(The FFRF Complaint is easily accessible on the FFRF website.)

Maybe there will be further interest and discussion here...maybe not.

mhaze
5th May 2011, 08:36 AM
I notice that there is a lot of chat here and elsewhere and much attention from the media regarding the tedious details of what recenty occurred in Pakistan.

While, perhaps, having less importance, the details regarding the "rest of the story" as to Revenue Ruling 70-549 remain in the same status as those pictures everywhere being talked about.

The Bush/Burleson letter posted here is just one detail in a long sequence of events regarding how 70-549 came to be issued contrary to the facts and the law and in satisfaction and consequence of the pressure exerted on the IRS by Bush/Burleson.

Perhaps there will be an official, public, judicial notice of such things if the FFRF IRC 107 challenge is allowed to go forward and the Complaint paragraph #35 allegation is fully explored. Revenue Ruling 70-549 makes a good case study, in my opinion, in support of the FFRF paragraph #35 allegation.

(The FFRF Complaint is easily accessible on the FFRF website.)

Maybe there will be further interest and discussion here...maybe not.So I read it, and the ruling, and I really do not think this is a dog that will hunt.

In saying that, I'm not saying I agree with it at all, but there are thousands of IRS regulations that I do not agree with.

But the complaint must be against specific law or regulation. You cannot complain about the bush/burleson letter that isn't material. As I mentioned they could have been considered by some in the population as doing a "good thing".
And you can't complain about the IRS administrative letter, it simply is not a regulation.

The basic, underlying issue here is tax breaks for churches or other non profits, the very concept of "non-profit". But this complaint does not address that rather accepts the validity of said concepts, then seeks to remedy injustice in tiny corners of those concepts.

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 08:46 AM
So I read it, and the ruling, and I really
do not think this is a dog that will hunt.

In saying that, I'm not saying I agree
with it at all, but there are thousands
of IRS regulations that I do not agree
with.



That kinda reminds me of all the fuss recently about those trillions and trillions of dollars of debt, and what is typically espoused in such conversations.

That is, the pundits and commentators and such would often be heard saying something like "it's only a billion dollars, that's only .1% of .1% of .1% of the budget; forget about it"!

There's a lot of things I disagree with as well. Does that mean I shouldn't address the details of any on of the things since, taken in isolation, they may be considered as insignificant?

You could shut down the JREF forums with that attitude...and yet the forum is quite active in its "trivial pursuits".

Perhaps I should be more active in entering comments on those other subject threads and letting those posters know that their "dogs won't hunt".

Nah!

They can try to get their dogs to hunt, and I'll try to get mine!

Mine's currently waiting for Judge Shubb to rule on the "standing" issue in the FFRF IRC 107 case.

One my other dogs is waiting for a little more Tax Court action in the cases of Dr. Dino and his wife.

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 08:57 AM
But the complaint must be against specific law
or regulation. You cannot complain about the
bush/burleson letter that isn't material. As I
mentioned they could have been considered by
some in the population as doing a "good thing".

And you can't complain about the IRS administrative
letter, it simply is not a regulation.

The basic, underlying issue here is tax breaks for
churches or other non profits, the very concept
of "non-profit". But this complaint does not address
that rather accepts the validity of said concepts,
then seeks to remedy injustice in tiny corners of
those concepts.



The above, I believe, was added by editing while I was posting my earlier message in response to the unedited post.

The 70-549 ruling is subject to "complaint" inasmuch as such rulings are supposed to be consistent with the law and how it should be administered.

Except for a lack of "standing", the ruling's application could be contested. Lack of standing does not prevent legitimate "complaint".

The IRS, as previously referenced, ruling otherwise at least twice before and those affected by the rulings admitted they were correct inasmuch as the private schools were not, in fact, in law, in theology "integral agencies of the church".

The IRS attempted to follow their previous decisions; nothing changed as to the facts or the law. The Bush/Burleson put the squeeze on the IRS on behalf of ACU who was caught and didn't want to litigate their dispute.

Funny, perhaps, but quite interesting is the fact that TCU went to court over the issue during the same time period and TCU was ruled by the Court to NOT be an "integral agency" of the Christian Church.

For those who know the religious history regarding the two churches and two schools, it's a little funny that TCU lost in court while ACU went behind closed doors and got Bush/Burleson to do its bidding, get the benefits, and avoid the public spectacle of a court proceeding.

Ron Flowers was the TCU "test case" and he wrote an interesting 20 page treatise on his experience and change of position regarding IRC 107. Some may recognize Ron Flowers as a church-state scholar of sorts and a former or current Americans United board member.

The Bush/Burleson letter, as previously noted, is a "detail" in the history of a specific case study regarding how the Government administers IRC 107 which, arguably, is done in violation of the Establishment Clause.

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 09:07 AM
Ron Flowers was the TCU "test case" and he
wrote an interesting 20 page treatise on his
experience and change of position regarding
IRC 107.



I am not sure as to the limits of what the moderators might allow here, but here are some excerpts from Ron's treatise:


-------------------------------------------

Flowers v. United States

Bungling Through to a Resounding Thud
By
Ronald B. Flowers
(transcribed by Robert L. Baty)

It is rare for a scholar of church-state relationships to be able to
write an analytical paper on a case in which he was involved, but
this is one of those times.

Ronald B. and Leah E. Flowers v. United States is a case involving
the ministerial parsonage allowance, authorized by Sec. 107 of the
Internal Revenue Code, and testing the concept of the control by
a congregationally governed church of one of its constituent colleges.

The paper is an analysis of the case,with autobiographical background
and appropriate homilies along the way.

In 1975 Texas Christian University had some twenty ordained
ministers in its faculty and staff, excluding those at its
theological seminary, Brite Divinity School, who were not touched
by this case. These ministers had been employed at the university
for various lengths of time, but in each case, at the time of being
hired, had been encouraged by the university to exclude from their
gross pay a housing allowance, to which they were entitled under
Sec. 107.

In 1975 TCU took an action which caused the IRS to declare
those ministers no longer eligible to exclude the parsonage
allowance from their gross salaries.. TCU decided to contest that
judgment, but lost the ensuing litigation.

This experience stimulates a homily on the danger of religious
organizations' lusting after government money.

It certainly had a dramatic impact on the lives of twenty of its
faculty members. Here is one more illustration of the principle
that religious groups and institutions just to feed at the public
trough at their own peril.

This law (IRC 107) is unconstitutional because it singles out
"minister of the gospel" (and rabbis) for preferential treatment.

There are housing benefits to other kinds of employees, but
they are much more restrictive than those available to clergy.

As a federal court has said:

> "The exclusion is not provided to
> a broad class of persons from
> which petitioner is excluded solely
> because he is not a minister. The
> exclusion is granted by legislative
> grace to ministers of the gospel
> alone. All persons who are not
> ministers are denied this grace. . ."

That is precisely the statute's
constitutional problem.

The court's opinion on the integral agency question was
based principally on two Revenue Rulings.

In Rev. Rul. 70-549...

In Rev. Rul. 62-606...

TCU had tried to show that it was an integral agency of
the church, to no avail.

In our case I clearly, and rightly, did not qualify for the
housing allowance on the basis of sacerdotal functions.

But that was not dispositive of the case, since the court
itself said:

> "Therefore, if TCU is an integral
> agency of the Christian Church
> (Disciples of Christ) then plaintiffs
> would be entitled to the exemption
> under Section 107."

On that issue the court held that TCU is not an integral
agency of its parent church.

We lost all around.

What did the case accomplish?

Nothing.

It continued the illusion that Sec. 107 is valid law and is
impervious to constitutional attack.

However, the case afforded the opportunity for this analysis
which shows that Sec. 107 is clearly unconstitutional and, to
say the very least, raises problems much more severe than
any benefits it may offer.

The impact of the case is that it reaffirms the government's
propensity to meddle in this sensitive constitutional area.

Section 107 should be repealed for the reasons suggested
here. (66)

NOTES

66.

It legitimately can be asked,

> if I so strongly think that Sec. 107
> is unconstitutional, why did I take
> the housing allowance in the first
> place and then agree to be part of
> a suit to try to preserve it?

The answer is that I did not know any better when I was
first employed as a pastoral minister and then, later, as
a religion professor at TCU.

Since coming on the faculty I simply had not thought
about it. I agreed to be the plaintiff (a bad mistake)
because I thought then that a valid principle of
church-state relationships was involved, i.e., the
unconstitutional governmental preference of one kind
of religious institution over another.

------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------

mhaze
5th May 2011, 09:07 AM
The above, I believe, was added by editing while I was posting my earlier message in response to the unedited post.

The 70-549 ruling is subject to "complaint" inasmuch as such rulings are supposed to be consistent with the law and how it should be administered.

Except for a lack of "standing", the ruling's application could be contested. Lack of standing does not prevent legitimate "complaint".....Well....I think that we are saying the same things, you've noted inconsistent application of the ruling by mentioning TCU, and I've noted that an IRS administrative ruling CAN BE interpreted differently by different IRS appeals agents, Tax Court, and so forth. Not even to get into whether the ruling applies uniformly across the country instead of just in the district it originated in. That is often an issue.

If one wanted to plead unjustness due to administrative rulings as opposed to rule of law by the IRS, then ALL OF THEM could as easily be included in the complaint, and you would be doing an injustice to exclude any.

:)

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 09:22 AM
If one wanted to plead unjustness due to
administrative rulings as opposed to rule of
law by the IRS, then ALL OF THEM could as
easily be included in the complaint, and you
would be doing an injustice to exclude any.



That goes to what I was saying earlier.

Not "all" of them could be included in the complaint.

That a person might not be able to do everything is no bar to a person doing something.

That many problems exist is no cause to do nothing because one can't deal with all of the problems.

The constitutional questions inherent in IRC 107 and addressed by many tax and legal scholars is clear enough; though some may disagree as to any final conclusion on the matter.

Also, to the extent that the administration of the law is relevant to evaluating the Establishment Clause complaint against IRC 107, the "rest of the story" regarding 70-549, in my opinion, provides an excellent case study supporting the complaint as espoused by FFRF in paragraph #35 referenced earlier.

mhaze
5th May 2011, 10:09 AM
....the administration of the law is relevant to evaluating the Establishment Clause complaint against ....Administration of the law, and administrative (or regulatory) law are two separate things. An IRS letter ruling is yet a third. These are three levels of successive impreciseness and variability in interpretation.

Retaining inconsistent application of the third, the retention of auditor discretion, that is in fact the intent of a letter ruling by the IRS....

Claiming standing in the third case, that's where I got the "dog won't hunt" feeling...

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 10:56 AM
An IRS letter ruling is yet a third.

Claiming standing in the third case,
that's where I got the "dog won't hunt" feeling...



The IRS issues "letter rulings" and 70-549 is NOT one of those.

70-549 is Revenue Ruling.

Numerous letter ruling have been issued since 1970 referencing 70-549 as a basis for telling those requesting such letter rulings that their organization will be treated as an "integral agency" and they can ordain all of their employees and pay them in tax free housing allowances.

I agree that the "dog won't hunt" as far as any legal standing to challenge 70-549. However, that does not prevent discourse in the public square and using the history of 70-549 as a prime example of Government intervention in things religious in, allegedly, violation of the Establishment Clause.

If the FFRF suit is allowed to proceed, it may be that the issue will be elevated above the public square into the judcial square and the Court will be allowed to opine regarding my expressed concerns.

aggle-rithm
5th May 2011, 11:00 AM
But what about the depreciation on the semi-annual disbursement of amortized annuity funds?! Good God, man, don't leave us hanging!!!

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 11:15 AM
But what about the depreciation on the
semi-annual disbursement of amortized
annuity funds?!

Good God, man, don't leave us hanging!!!



Asked and answered, as the lawyers say!

See previous posts for the answer...repeatedly stated.

mhaze
5th May 2011, 11:23 AM
But what about the depreciation on the semi-annual disbursement of amortized annuity funds?! Good God, man, don't leave us hanging!!!:)

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 11:37 AM
But what about the depreciation on the
semi-annual disbursement of amortized
annuity funds?!

Good God, man, don't leave us hanging!!!




> "You will not deliberately attempt to derail threads..."
>
> "Off topic posts may be moved to new threads."
>
>> JREF Management

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 03:05 PM
In addressing an issue not peculiar to the ministerial housing allowance, a CPA from Atlanta had occasion to investigate 70-549 in conjunction with his own interests regarding disclosures regarding tax matters. He wrote a letter to the editor of TaxNotes last year which was published. At the time, he was unaware of the Bush connection (that's a story in itself, perhaps):

------------------------------------------------

Tax Notes Today
AUGUST 23, 2010

All IRS Ruling Deliberations Should Be
Subject to FOIA, Writer Argues

by Jay Starkman

To the Editor:

(excerpts)

Years ago, I made a successful request for FOIA materials
relating to the issuance of Rev. Rul. 70-549 and Rev. Rul. 71-7,
which pertain to Social Security taxation of teacher-preachers.

The FOIA materials revealed the reason for these parsonage
rulings was political.

Abilene Christian College, which is affiliated with the Churches
of Christ, didn't pay the required FICA. The IRS proposed an
assessment against the college for 1964 to 1967 for around
$75,000.

Congressman Omar Burleson sat on the tax-writing House
Ways and Means Committee.

Burleson was also a member of the board of trustees of
Abilene Christian College.

The college appealed to Burleson.

Six IRS conferees met with Burleson on May 6, 1970.

The FOIA documents include an IRS memorandum "that
a favorable response should be given to Congressman
Burleson [and] that a revenue ruling be published."

Jay Starkman, CPA
Atlanta
Aug. 18, 2010

-------------------
-------------------

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 05:49 PM
Oh, yes that is priceless logic. Misrepresent, then
accuse based on the misrepresentation, then reframe
to conspiracy, then accuse again.

All because someone asked for actual transcripts or
full video of the event in question.

Well, the reason you have to do that is you don't
have much in the way of facts. But you won't admit
that, so you have to try to go on the offense.

Frankly I couldn't care less about this alleged "evidence".

There is your history of making outrageous statements
to which people have linked to at least a couple of
examples, and there are others. So why should
anyone believe you when you

(a) use extensive arguing tactics to cover up weak
understanding of facts

(b) have a history of outrageous statements?



I think that was in the context of a fuss with Joe about Michelle B.

That and the related posts in that other thread do provide some context for what the Haze has done in this thread.

I guess in that game I'm running way ahead of the competition.

You are welcome!

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 06:09 PM
As the debate on Fox begins, be sure to watch and see if any of the questions and comments deal with the recently released Grassley Report, implicitly or explicitly.

For further reference regarding my foregoing comments, I offer some comments attributed to George Pepperdine himself regarding its relationship to the church, or lack thereof:

(1)

> http://www.wordsfitlyspoken.org/gospel_guardian/v3/v3n50p1,9b-11.html
>
> Gospel Guardian
>
> VOLUME 3
> April 24, 1952
> NUMBER 50, PAGE 1, 9b-11
>
> George Pepperdine College
> (A Report On Fifteen Years Of Progress By Its Founder)
>
> (excerpts)
>
> As I stated many times, I did not want and still do NOT
> want this college to be an adjunct of the church.
> We are not a church or an evangelistic society or a
> missionary society...
>
> George Pepperdine
> Los Angeles, California


(2)

> www.therestorationmovement.com/california/pepperdine.htm
>
> George Pepperdine
> 1886-1962
>
> (excerpt)
>
> Initially, Baxter asked George what
> kind of school he wanted.
>
> George smiled and said,
>
> "That's the whole trouble,
> Dr. Baxter. I don't know exactly
> what I want. I know one or two
> things I don't want?
>
>> I don't want another college
>> that will be dependent upon
>> the churches for support..."


(3)

> http://classic-web.archive.org/web/19990223223045/http://www.pepperdine.org/misc/mission.htm
>
> The Mission of Pepperdine University
>
> (excerpts)
>
> Adopted by the Board of Regents on September 14, 1982
>
> Historical Background
>
> The University was founded in 1937 by Mr. George Pepperdine...
>
> Basic Principles
>
> Mr. Pepperdine's original statement of purpose is still the
> guiding principle of the University...
>
> It does not profess to be a church or religious body...
>
> Governance
>
> Mr. Pepperdine stipulated that special emphasis be
> given to Christian values and faith while establishing
> an institution free of direct ownership and control by
> an ecclesiastical body.

And such founding principles may be found to exist in similar schools such as ACU.

Alas, comes then Bush and Burleson and they compel the Government, via the IRS, to recognize the private schools as "integral agencies of the church" in order that "basketball ministers" and other such employees can have tax free housing allowances.

The Government must needs recognize such private schools, but the Government should recognize them for what they are, NOT for what they are NOT. That's my opinion.

Does such meddling violate the Establishment Clause and/or the principle of separation of church and state?

Some might reasonably so conclude; and so the FFRF IRC 107 suit so alleges, by implication, in paragraph #35 of its Complaint.

mhaze
5th May 2011, 06:28 PM
I think that was in the context of a fuss with Joe about Michelle B.

That and the related posts in that other thread do provide some context for what the Haze has done in this thread.

I guess in that game I'm running way ahead of the competition.

You are welcome!:)

I am just a stickler for original sources and actually read them. You provided several, you have my respect. It is often enough that when the actual facts come out, they are somewhat different than the initial guesses.

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 07:03 PM
:)

I am just a stickler for original sources and
actually read them. You provided several,
you have my respect.



Thanks!

I'm actually glad to be tested on the substantive details of what I might claim on the important public issues which I seek to address.

RLBaty
5th May 2011, 07:08 PM
Since I've discovered that I can apparently post links now, I will give this a try.

Following is a link to an article by the Pepperdine school newspaper that gives some insight into the exploitation of 70-549 by Pepperdine employees:

http://graphic.pepperdine.edu/news/2003/2003-10-30-minister.htm

Please note, however, that the authors of the article were not aware, at that time, of the "real story" behind 70-549 and why Pepperdine employees are able to exploit the housing allowance benefit.

Skeptic Ginger
6th May 2011, 09:50 AM
There are very similar (and in some cases, better) deductions for non-religious organizations. See, for example, IRC 119(a)(2).
http://www.taxalmanac.org/index.php/Internal_Revenue_Code:Sec._119._Meals_or_lodging_f urnished_for_the_convenience_of_the_employer
That's used for the most part when your employer requires you to stay on site, the food and lodging provided so you can do that are not counted as income. That's quite different from free housing that you occupy al the time.

Should a fire fighter have to count as income the equivalent of rent for the crew quarters? Should the camp counselor consider lodging at the camp, income? These costs are part of the job, not some income benefit.

This exemption is not the equivalent of full time free housing. In general it applies to temporary job related food and housing.


Religious tax exemptions are regularly abused. Pat Robertson and Operation Blessing (http://www.baptistpillar.com/bd0043.htm) comes to mind. Robertson conducted gold mining operations under the guise of some religious charity.

God Knows, But the IRS Doesn't (http://www.economist.com/node/18010759)The influential Mr [Chuck] Grassley, who has long championed greater transparency and accountability in the charitable sector, has become increasingly convinced that this privilege is being abused to the tune of many millions of dollars.

Although his report was triggered by tales of televangelists running lucrative things such as recording studios and selling oil and gas under cover of the religious exemption, it highlights a serious regulatory failure at the heart of America’s charitable sector. The 14-point guide which the IRS uses to judge whether an organisation is exempt is open to broad interpretation. There is inconsistency even among prominent evangelistic organisations. Billy Graham, for example, long ago opted not to classify his empire as a church, and thus files a 990, in part because he wanted to encourage other religious charities to be transparent and accountable....

...Senior members of staff, whom they call ministers but who might easily be confused for bureaucrats, can benefit from perks such as the “parsonage allowance”—essentially tax-free money to pay their mortgage.

Before seeking new legislation, Mr Grassley is waiting for religious organisations to respond to his report with proposals to minimise such abuses. Already, a commission has been established by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which is expected to recommend some significant reforms. Although by raising this issue Mr Grassley is touching what has long been regarded as a “third rail” of American politics, his reward may be a much-needed burst of transparency. Let there be light!

Skeptic Ginger
6th May 2011, 09:58 AM
I am not sure as to the limits of what the moderators might allow here, but here are some excerpts from Ron's treatise:....What is allowed is a link to the source and a paragraph or two quoted, like you did in post 53. Otherwise the mods will delete what you copied because of copyright regs.

Skeptic Ginger
6th May 2011, 10:06 AM
Now you just need to learn the basic forum codes (http://forums.randi.org/misc.php?do=bbcode), and a little more useful stuff (http://forums.randi.org/faq.php?faq=new_faq_item). :D


:welcome4

RLBaty
6th May 2011, 10:33 AM
Now you just need to learn the basic forum codes (http://forums.randi.org/misc.php?do=bbcode), and a little more useful stuff (http://forums.randi.org/faq.php?faq=new_faq_item). :D


:welcome4



I'm a little slow in getting used to how new forums operate.

I'm also not a technical person when it comes to computers.

Ah, but I just realized I have passed the big "50", so maybe I'll try to get an avatar set up.

Thanks for the welcome.

RLBaty
24th May 2011, 02:14 PM
Here's a couple of recent articles regarding IRC 107 and the FFRF suit to challenge it:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/spring/housing.html

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/june/standingshakyground.html

ladmo
25th May 2011, 06:12 AM
The tax code favors a lot of people. Nothing new there. At least the reasoning behind not taxing minister's income for housing has some legitimate historical basis. The idea is the State cannot tax religion. Separation goes both ways here.[quote]

I do not see how separation of Church and State applies. If Churches were taxed at a higher rate than non-religious, then there could be a case but as long as the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment is followed... Churches can be taxed.

[QUOTE=randman;7145805]Also keep in mind most ministers don't make that much money. There are relatively few cases of the rich preacher taking advantage of the tax law but even there,

Ignorance is noted. I make extremely good money and I would sacrifice $50K to take the clerical housing deduction... in a NY second.

[QUOTE=randman;7145805]as far as the law goes, it's not incumbent on anyone to pay more taxes than is required under the law.

I agree, that is why the ruling should be changed.

ladmo
25th May 2011, 06:19 AM
The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.
Frank Zappa

RLBaty
25th May 2011, 08:20 AM
...the ruling should be changed.




The Grassley Report noted various defects in the law, including the constitutional doubts regarding IRC 107. Alas, Grassley and his bunch decided to do nothing and turned it over to some thinkers to think about it.

Meanwhile, in a story out of Tulsa, the FFRF has been given the green light to start ordaining its employees as ministers so that its employees can begin exploiting the gimmick until such time, if it every happens, that the law is changed to prevent it.

This week is the week in which the Government is required to file its motion to dismiss the FFRF suit challenging the law. The case should be ripe for Judge Shubb's decision on that by the end of July.

We'll see how that goes and if the case is going to be allowed to proceed on its merits.

randman
30th May 2011, 12:17 AM
You would sacrifice 50k to get a housing allowance deduction? You pay more than 50k per year in taxes for what you pay for your home? That'd make your housing payment something like 150k per year or more.

If so and you can afford that, what are you complaining about?

ladmo
31st May 2011, 08:49 AM
You would sacrifice 50k to get a housing allowance deduction? You pay more than 50k per year in taxes for what you pay for your home? That'd make your housing payment something like 150k per year or more.

If so and you can afford that, what are you complaining about?
Yes... the tax break is 100%.