Appeals court to hear case on clergy housing allowance

For many years the federal government has allowed ministers of the gospel, as defined by the IRS, to deduct the cost of housing from their salaries (often referred to as the “Clergy Parsonage Allowance”). Last year, a lawsuit challenging this tax benefit was filed in a federal court in Wisconsin, arguing that this benefit provided to clergy is unconstitutional. The court ruled with the plaintiffs and declared that the IRS could no longer provide this exemption.

The case was immediately appealed by the Federal Government and will come before a federal appeals court in the coming months. The Church Alliance, an organization of church benefit plan administrators, has filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of the appeal. WELS has expressed its support for this appeal and is also participating in the effort with the Church Alliance organization.

While we recognize that this benefit, like other tax exemptions, is not one that we can demand from our government, we are very much aware of the benefits that this provides to those who serve in our synod as ministers of the gospel. Regardless of the outcome, we trust that the Lord of the Church will continue to provide for the needs of those who serve him in gospel ministry.

Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder