What To Think About the Minister’s Housing Allowance (by Joel Rainey)

Joel Rainey is the Director of Missions at Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, an adjunct professor at Capital Bible Seminary and blogs at Themelios (Twitter – @joelrainey). This post was originally published at his site.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever used this site to address an issue having to do with the United States Tax Code, so this will, I believe, be a first.  But before you browse on, or think you can use the following to put yourself to sleep, indulge me for just a bit, especially if you are a pastor or a church leader trying to make sense of a recent Federal ruling that could potentially affect the minister’s housing allowance.

Last Friday, Federal Judge Barbara Crabb of the western district of Wisconsin, ruled that the housing allowance is unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violates the establishment clause of the 1st amendment.  The lawsuit, brought by the ever-annoying Freedom From Religion Foundation, charged that the U.S. government violated the so-called “separation of church and state” by granting this provision to ministers.

Though enforcement of this ruling has been stayed until all appeals are exhausted, this decision, if kept in place, will have a far-reaching impact on more than 40,000 religious leaders around the country, most of whom could see as much as a 10 percent reduction in their take-home income as a result of new taxes.  Of course, in the midst of this a really good question is on the minds of a lot of people–including many Christians who simply don’t understand the rationale behind the housing allowance.  Why should a pastor be allowed to exempt from his taxable income expenses related to housing when very few others in the public are allowed this same benefit?  So, whether you are a pastor, a casual observer, or an involved church leader wondering what all of this could mean, I’d like to take a few paragraphs to explain why this measure was put in place to begin with, the complexity of ministerial income and taxes that make it necessary, and the reason I think Judge Crabb’s ruling itself may violate the First Amendment.

First a little history.  Exemption of religious property from taxes has been a long-held standard among civilized nations for many centuries, and American expressions of this in our tax code are in many ways the legacy of these civilizations, which date all the way back to ancient Rome.  Governments have historically seen a great benefit to society that comes from religious practice, and as a result have sought to lessen the financial burden on religious entities.  For the United States, two significant moments serve as examples of this disposition; the first in the 1921 Revenue Act, which exempted church-owned property used to house ministers from income taxes.  However, as the years passed, and fewer churches intentionally got into the housing business, they would instead provide a housing allowance to pastors, which could be used to secure private living space off church grounds.  Recognizing the disparity between pastors who owned their own home who paid taxes on that income, and those living in church-owned housing who paid nothing, Congress amended the tax code in 1954 in a way that would allow ministers to exempt the portion of their income used for housing from federal income taxes.  In short, the housing allowance emerged from the earlier practice of easing the burden of churches, who often struggle to compensate clergy properly.

Over the past 60 years, a few challenges have been brought to this exemption, and they tend to be ignited when a pastor seems to abuse the exemption.  Most recently, Steven Furtick’s $1.6 million home caused quite a bit of outrage among Christians as well as non-Christians, and understandably, some asked what justification could be given for allowing that property to remain tax free.  To be sure, the housing allowance can be abused, and when it is, pastors should pay the price for using the title “Reverend” to take advantage of others.  But occasional abuses of a law don’t invalidate the law itself.  More than six decades after the tax code was amended, the overwhelming majority of the 40,000 religious leaders in the United States still find themselves in similar economic circumstances.

So why should church leaders, and denominational leaders like me stand up for the minister’s housing allowance?

It serves to correct economic disparity.  Nationwide, ministers of the Gospel are compensated at a level that is significantly lower than other professions which require the same level of education and expertise. (Most pastors possess, at a minimum, an undergraduate degree, and a 90-hour [three-year] Master of Divinity degree, or approximately 7 years of higher education)  Certainly there are exceptions to this rule, and unfortunately, TV cameras seem to only catch those who enjoy great wealth.  But on average, pastors are compensated 20% less than the average income of those with similar education and experience in other fields.  I honestly don’t know anyone in my network who got into this for the money, but if you do, you should fire them for being stupid.  Generally, there just isn’t a lot of money to be made in this line of work.

My own association can serve as an example.  In 2011 our staff conducted a compensation study (which we do every five years) which segregated pay scales by county (my association includes churches located in 7 counties and 2 states).  The highest income levels for pastors were in Howard County Maryland, where I also live, and the mean income (salary and housing) for Senior Pastors in this area in 2011 was $58,463.00.  For some, that sounds like a lot of money, until you realize that these men are working in the area designated in 2012 as having the second highest median income levels in the entire country–just over $108,000!  Additionally, Lifeway’s compensation study is nationwide, and reveals an average income significantly less than the figure above.

Additionally, it is not uncommon in an area like ours–where a  modest single-family home can’t be purchased for less than $400,000– for housing allowances to exceed $35,000.  For an area like ours, a $35K housing allowance is really not that high.  But with that allowance, the standard of living for pastors, while still not coming close to that of someone making over $100K, can be brought more in line with the rest of the population.  Otherwise, most churches, because of their own financial constraints, are paying someone as much as 40% less than the average income in a given area.  I’m guessing most people reading this, if they were making 40% less than the average income in their area, wouldn’t be able to live in that area–unless some special provision was made for them.

It eases the burden of complex tax regulations regarding ministers. While the housing allowance for ministers is currently free from federal income taxes, it is not exempt from Social Security taxes.  Additionally, ministers are considered “self-employed” for the purposes of Social Security.  So, while your employer is paying half of your Social Security and Medicare taxes, leaving you with only a 7.5% burden, pastors and other religious leaders pay the full 15%.  Once you do the math on this, paying a $60,000 salary to a pastor means he is only taking home $45,000 after federal income taxes and Social Security taxes if the housing allowance is removed.  And we haven’t started talking about state and local taxes yet.   I’ve often heard the “tax break” line, even in churches, and its a myth.  Once you have navigated through all the various regulations on ministers in the tax code, it becomes apparent that they get no significant tax advantages over anyone else.

The U.S. tax code is especially complex when it comes to ministers.  I’d personally love to see it simplified one day, but in the mean time, I don’t think pastors should be penalized just because the way their compensation is viewed by the IRS isn’t well-understood by most.  Stop looking at the TV preacher and thinking all pastors are in that situation.  99% are not.

It is fairly given to leaders of all faiths.  Judge Crabb’s ruling was based on a single rationale–that it violates the establishment clause of the Constitution.  Candidly, such a rationale makes me wonder how Judge Crabb passed 3rd grade reading comprehension, let alone graduated from law school and found her way to the federal bench.  The First Amendment states that Congress is forbidden to pass a law that establishes a state religion.  But when you consider that the ministerial housing allowance applies to Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and any other recognized religious leaders, it becomes apparent that Congress hasn’t “established” anything by providing a housing allowance in the tax code.  Additionally, housing allowances are still allotted today for Peace Corps volunteers, members of the military, and those involved in foreign service to the country.  Yes, even Atheist leaders can now be categorized as religious leaders.  And let’s be honest, Atheism really is a faith position.  So, where exactly is the establishment of religion to which Judge Crabb objects? Ironically, it may be in the ruling she handed down.  Differences in denominational convictions relative to church and denomination-owned housing could mean that this ruling widens the disparity that existed between various expressions of faith prior to 1954.  Joe Carter of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission says it well. “By her decision Judge Crabb has–albeit unintentionally–incorporated a form of denominational favoritism into the tax code.  In her attempt to prevent an imaginary violation of the Establishment Clause she has inadvertently created a real infringement.”

99% of the more than 40,000 pastors in our country aren’t rich, and never will be.  They work tirelessly and selflessly in the everyday mess of people’s lives for significantly less than they could make if they simply chose another line of work.  They do this because they believe it is what they were created for and called by God to do, and the minister’s housing allowance isn’t an unfair advantage.  For many pastors, its how they can afford to serve their communities, and bring their own standard of living up to everyone else’s.

Stand up for your pastor on this issue.

For a more thorough history and rationale of the Housing Allowance, see Joe Carter’s post here.

Comments

  1. Sally Ann Moore says

    I uphold the court ruling, and I think the housing allowance is highly mis-used. The housing allowance should cover the costs of running the household, and nothing more. The allowance has been abused by giving pastors added non-taxable income that is not used for household expenses. We all know that this is legal (up until now), but it certainly is not ethical.

    • John Wylie says

      No Sally you are wrong, the housing allowance had to be spent only on household expenses otherwise those monies were taxable.

      • Dave Miller says

        Yes, John. You are right about Sally being wrong. My most difficult task every year in doing my taxes is to justify my housing allowance. What ever I didn’t spend on the house goes into taxable income.

    • says

      Sally,

      According to the tax code ordained pastors may claim the lesser of, documented costs, fair market rental for a furnished house, or designated about by the church. I personally use the “fair market rental” designation when we present the budget breakdown to the church. However because of the law that says “lesser” I have to have the receipts to prove that I spent that amount of money in housing costs (mortgage, interest, maintenance, etc.). If what I designated is more than what my receipts show I have to add that extra to my salary and get taxed on it.

  2. says

    Sally, from your statements it seems you are privy to data that proves your claims. Would you mind providing the data to which you appeal for your claim that the allowance is “highly misused”?

    Tim, this is why we should join lawmakers to tighten up guidelines surrounding the housing allowance. Congress can make law that prevents this oind of abuse, which the housing allowance was never intended to permit, and they can do it without a court ruling which throws baby and bathwater out together.

  3. Rick Patrick says

    While I predict the ruling will lose on appeal, I certainly agree with this article. However, I’m not overly fond of the title “What To Think About ___________.” Tell me what YOU think all day long. But don’t tell me what I should think. After all, the reader can exercise his own free will and decide for himself what to think.

  4. says

    I actually this this is a very easy problem to solve. Make the housing allowance available to anyone in a certain tax bracket. Certainly this would have other significant implications that would need to be compensated for, but it would also help a great many people who are in a similar financial position as struggling ministers.

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughts Chris. A half-century ago, food was the most expensive item in the budget of the average family. Today, its housing. Though I see your suggestion as a separate issue from the minister’s housing allowance, and thus not a way to “solve” a problem (of course, I see no problem to begin with), I’m with you that this benefit should be available to anyone, up to certain limits established based on the region of the country and corresponding cost of housing in which they live. Great idea.

  5. says

    I actually think this is a very easy problem to solve. Make the housing allowance available to anyone in a certain tax bracket. Certainly this would have other significant implications that would need to be compensated for, but it would also help a great many people who are in a similar financial position as struggling ministers.

  6. says

    I appreciate Joel’s thoughts on the matter. Here are a few observations:

    I’m suppose Joel is aware that the decision, even if enforced, affects only those clergy who receive cash payments as a HA. It wasn’t clear from what he wrote. It doesn’t affect those living in parsonages. This reduces the number of SBC clergy affected considerably.

    On correcting economic disparity, I really don’t think we need to be doing so much handwringing about penurious clergy. We aren’t in a pitifully compensated vocation. Some clergy are paid little but so are many occupations. Even the judge noted that clergy are somewhat modestly paid for professionals. But I’m not sure we need to claim our tax break on our housing expenses and tell teachers in our congregations, ‘Too bad you don’t get this.” We look bad when we put on rags and holey shoes in an attempt to justify this. This is irrelevant to the constitutional question anyway.

    On easing the burden of complex tax regulations. These aren’t all that complex. All the tax prep software has it covered. What Joel may intend to scrutinize here is the fact that we pay SECA taxes, even on the rental value of a pastorium and certainly on our cash housing allowance. This wasn’t given to us as punishment but rather as a way of accommodating churches and ministers. Again, has nothing to do with the constitutional question.

    On treating all faiths equally, I agree. This is likely how the decision will be overturned. But one cannot fail to note that the 1954 law gave the cash HA to “ministers of the gospel” but the IRS has expanded the interpretation of that phrase to include rabbis and Bhuddists, etc, and the government argued that it should include even atheists. Go figure. Strange bedfellows.

    Two areas where Joel errs considerably:

    1. The ad hominem directed at Judge Crabb. It is beneath Joel or any of us to make such a sarcastic slam at her as, “how Judge Crabb passed 3rd grade reading comprehension, let alone graduated from law school and found her way to the federal bench.” This neither advances any argument nor enhances our Christian witness. I take it that Joel did not read the decision. He may disagree with her as I do, but many of these points are cogently discussed. Do we really think that this is helpful?

    2. The blithe dismissal of the relatively small number of highly paid ministers like Furtick et al. Like it or not, public opinion and especially non-churchgoing public opinion, is driven by the few cases like Phil Driscoll, the Copelands, Furtick, and others. We aren’t going to get anywhere trying to defend folks like these who exclude hundreds of thousands of dollars from income taxes through the HA, while ordinary stiffs have to pay taxes on income used to buy or rent their humble domicile.

    My wish is that we would clean up our act in two ways. The first is easy, the second may be impossible.

    1. Put a cap on the housing allowance. This would be easier than means testing it, as one commenter suggested. Write legislation that says a minister may have this housing allowance but cannot exclude more than $XXX of his income. This solves the problem of the bling brethren who live in those multi-million dollar mansions and taxes on income used to pay for them are shifted to poor non-ordained saps. This is a disgrace and should be corrected.

    2. Find a way to stop the abuse of ordaining people who fill some peripheral church staff jobs that so they can get their HA tax break.

    I like the HA. I hope the case is overturned but we might do well to use the opportunity to fix some things that are odious about it.

    • says

      William,

      Thanks for your thoughts here. I appreciate the time you have taken to address these issues in detail. I only want to respond to your two critiques, in reverse order:

      2. It was not my intention to be dismissive of abuses. But the focus of my post was on the 99% of pastors whose last name isn’t Furtick or Driscoll. I know many of these men in my own Association and candidly, they aren’t putting on rags and holy shoes to justify this, but many of them do wear such clothing, and I don’t want to see them harmed further simply because an atheist organization feels the need to punish them for believing in God. I agree with you where abuses of the housing allowance are concerned, but again, we can fix that legislatively without sending a bunch of small church pastors into deeper poverty–which is exactly what this ruling will do.

      1. I accept your rebuke regarding the ad hominem attack on Judge Crabb. I did read the ruling, and while well-worded, “cogent” isn’t an adjective I’d use to describe it, principally because, again, anyone with basic reading comprehension skills should be able to see clearly that the housing allowance doesn’t establish a state religion. At the same time, the way I expressed this could have certainly been more irenic. I admit that my emotions may have gotten the best of me. As a servant to 62 churches in my area, I know, love, and support the pastors of this Association, and consider it an honor to advocate for them. When I read this ruling, I saw an attack on them. Honestly, from the standpoint of the plaintiffs, I still see it as an attack on them. But I should have spoken more respectfully of Judge Crabb.

      You and I agree totally on “capping” the allowance, as it was never intended to be used to hide income while building a mansion for onesself. Nothing wrong with having a mansion if you can afford it, mind you, but I believe we should “cap” the allowance at a reasonable rate, as its purpose was to help those who need it, not enable the hiding of income.

      We stand together in opposing this ruling, and also in using it as an opportunity to take an honest look at how its used. I hope both can occur. I didn’t speak at length about those things because the scope of the post was intended to simply defend this measure, and those of modest means who are entitled to it. Thanks again!

      • says

        “I did read the ruling, and while well-worded, “cogent” isn’t an adjective I’d use to describe it, principally because, again, anyone with basic reading comprehension skills should be able to see clearly that the housing allowance doesn’t establish a state religion.”

        Perhaps the opinion isn’t cogent in the sense that it convinces you of the strength of the ruling, but I would agree with William that the issue is “cogently discussed” in the sense that Judge Crabb discussed what was legally pertinent.

        With all due respect, the idea of Congress establishing a state religion, (as you’ve referenced twice now), is not legally relevant to the issues at hand. While the Establishment Clause certainly does prohibit Congress from establishing a state religion, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Establishment Clause to prohibit a much wider range of governmental activities. You may strongly disagree with the decades of legal precedent surrounding the Establishment Clause, but continuing to dismiss the HA decision simply because Congress has not established a state religion isn’t helpful to those who oppose this ruling. In fact, I would respectfully—and I do mean respectfully—argue that it is not only unhelpful but that it is actually detrimental to our cause to continue to advance such an argument.

        I would argue that it is detrimental primarily for two reasons:

        1. At times like this, those whom you serve will look to you for guidance. As a Christian leader, I would encourage you to actually interact with the content of Judge Crabb’s Opinion—the legal issues addressed and legal standards applied therein. The legal arguments for both sides of this case are complex and nuanced, (and neither are concerned with whether or not the HA establishes a state religion). It does no service to lay Christians to get them riled up over issues which are not, from a legal standpoint, relevant to the inquiry.

        2. At times like this, those on the other side of the argument will also be carefully watching what we do and what we say. When we get up in arms over issues which are not relevant to the eventual outcome of the case, we may inadvertently give the other side cause for ridicule and easy dismissal. It is of utmost important that our words in times like these be precise and apposite

        Finally, please don’t misunderstand me: I also see problems with this opinion, both in Judge Crabb’s legal analysis and in the greater social/political context in which it was rendered. However, no federal court, (and especially not a district court), is going to completely ignore decades of legal precedent; the legal issues to be addressed and the legal standards to be applied are firmly set in place. That is why it is extremely important for us, as Christians, to actually discuss this case on the terms on which it will be decided.

  7. Tarheel says

    The “cash” HA is capped already…the housing allowance can only be up to a certain percentage of your income….although I’m not sure what that percentage is off hand.

    • William Thornton says

      Not so.

      It is limited mainly by the rental value of the house, furnished, including utilities; therefore, those clergy with extremely high incomes (say, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland whose 18,280sf house on 25 acres was valued in 2008 at $6.2m and who claims to be a billionaire) may easily and legally exclude hundreds of thousands of dollars from income taxes.

      Do we think it fair, or good tax policy to have taxpayers subsidize such mansions and tax burdens shifted to non-clergy teachers, police, store clerks, and other lower income individuals?

      • Tarheel says

        Is it fair to use extreme and rare cases to determine fairness?

        Also, I do not know what his compensation is, or how much his housing expenses are….but legally he must pay SS tax on every penny he recieves in any form at the full rate, which police, teachers, ect do not do…they only pay half….and can only “shied” from income tax what he actually uses on household expenses up to a certain percecentage.

        • William Thornton says

          Odd…when we think we have to defend a tax break for billionaire clergy mansions. Makes no sense at all. I am at a loss as to why any of us would oppose a cap on the HA that would keep these type situations from occurring.

          You are aware that social security taxes only apply to a wage base of $117,000?

          You are wrong on the percentage of income that can be excluded through the HA. Check with Rick Warren on this.

          It is both fair and rational to use extreme cases on this discussion because those drive public opinion.

          • Tarheel says

            The SS rule you mention is for everyone….not just ministers.

            Public opinion, even in many of our churches I’d bet, is that ministers should work for next to nothing because it’s ministry….or be on call for cousin Sally’s ingrown toenail extraction because that’s what they’re paid to do….

            .but I’m thinking you don’t succumb to that thinking??

          • Tarheel says

            Also, I don’t oppose a reasonable cap to prevent abuses…I don’t think I’ve said or intimated that I did.

  8. Tarheel says

    And again….it’s not tax layer subsidized.

    They taxpayers are not paying anything for it…except those who are members of the church or otherwise voluntarily give to the ministry.

    This is not a subsidy.

    I will correct something I’ve said though. I thought the percentage rule was a federal IRS rule….but I looked back at some of “housing allowance worksheets” and it appears that the percentage i was thinking of was a previous church policy not a IRS tax policy (in that case it was 50%)….I looked at Guidestone website and saw that “I’m some cases churches and ministers may designate 100% as HA. So i was wrong about the percentage thingie…lol

    But IMO, using Copeland and others of his ilk as reasons to end a tax break for the rest of us is ridiculous.

    There are plenty of reasons to not like Copeland and his exploitative ministry, granted…but his and others abuse is not reason to milk the the rest us.

    • William Thornton says

      I didn’t see where you corrected the % business before my earlier reply.

      The cash HA may end if upheld on appeal but that has nothing to do with excessive but legal use of it by Copeland, et al. My view is that a cap would protect all of us while eliminating the source of public ire at the tax burden being shifted from millionaire clergy to average working folks. I know of no reason why this would create any problem for us.

  9. Tarheel says

    I should have used quotation marks when refering to Copeland and his “ministry”….but that is another debate altogether. ;-)

  10. Greg Harvey says

    Let’s actually “walk the dog” on this particular issue. What happens when a legislature grants tax abeyance to a special interest? Corruption happens. This is rent seeking pure and simple. Sure, because it is for the “Cause of Christ” it’s high-minded rent seeking, but it’s still rent seeking. Reducing carve outs permits the tax rates to be lowered and significantly increases both compliance and receipts. That generally leads to stronger economic growth (a system that has been being tested worldwide as almost every nation–if not all–have lower corporate rates than the U.S. does now.)

    And what has to be done in order to “protect” a rent-seeking carve out? Oh, yeah: lobbying which includes contributing money to political campaigns to seek favors from the government. This is part of an extremely corrupt system which in effect either is designed to buy votes or worse yet to funnel political contributions to incumbents and keep them in office. Call your Congress Critters and insist on tax reform that eliminates carve outs and lowers rates. Show trust in God to provide for your needs instead of the Federal Government. This message is brought to you by a real fiscal conservative…

    • Tarheel says

      Well, this real fiscal conservative said in the other HA thread that a flat tax everyone pays with almost no deductions woukd be better…

      But until then – equaling the playing field for ministers is OK….

      And again, it’s not a subsidy, unless you believe people (ministers) don’t earn income, but instead they borrow it from the govt.

      Permitting one to keep, and not be taxed, more of thier income is not taking from the govt. unless you believe all money belongs to the govt. in the first place.

      Subsidies are different as they take money from taxpayers and give cash to an agenda (ie….planned parenthood, green energy)….I’m not getting money, I’m just allowed to keep more of what I earn.

  11. says

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” That’s the whole first amendment.

    A law exempting pastors of religions from having to pay tax on a certain portion of their income, which exemption does not apply to the citizenry at large, seems (to me) to be a law respecting an “establishment of religion” .. the church itself. I think the ruling was proper, and the reasoning that pastors are paid less than others doesn’t hold water, either. Any more than a housing exemption for fast food workers would, either.

    I’ve seen enough talk about this over the past few years to figure that we all knew it was coming, anyway.

    Permitting one class of people to keep “more of their money” does force others to pay for whatever would have been paid for, by the tax not collected thereby.

    • Tarheel says

      But it’s not just one class…

      And the “establishment clause” forbids the govt. from setting up an official church, or governmentally favoring one religion over the other….the HA does neither.

      Also, spek you feel that way about mortgage intrest deductions? Die snt that too “favor one class of people” (homeowners) and thereby “force others to pay for what would have been paid”? How about charitable deductions? Does that not favor those who give to charity over those who don’t, thereby forcing others ” to pay for what woukd have been paid.”

  12. Tarheel says

    Sorry for typos…

    Don’t all tax deductions “favor some over others”?

    Are you arguing for and ending of all deductions? If you are I’m more in agreement than you may think.

    Flat tax with very few, if any, deductions…ends all this. Simple tax code.

  13. William Thornton says

    No one accuses our tax system of being fair, the government choosing various winners and losers. I would be perfectly willing to give up the cash HA if there was an acceptable overall tax reform. Not likely, and unless it is unconstitutional, we must admit that we have a very nice tax break. There aren’t many that exclude cash income like our wonderful HA.

    The HA has to be seen as an indirect subsidy for clergy housing. We get a chunk of cash, income tax free, to spend on housing and some get grand sums income tax free. Clearly the tax burden is shifted to the hoi polloi who don’t get the break.

    I would encourage my ministerial colleagues to look around and see how the general public, particularly the non-churchgoing public, reacts when they fully understand this business.

  14. dr. james willingham says

    Wait until you have to pay taxes for the privilege of believing what others consider a rank superstition. A former chaplain of the United Nations, circa 1990, declared, “We are going to put all of you Bible believing people in an insane asylum where you belong.”

  15. Tarheel says

    How about true ministers of the gospel self governing by calling out the “ministers” who exude lavish lifestyles like the ones mentioned in this thread while gaing such luxuries off of exploitative manipulation of people with the heretical use of out of context scriptures and emotional buffoonery?

    instead though …we tend to look the other way for fear of not fostering “unity” or being “divisive” …. “we” castigate those who dare call out these charlatans.

    Why are we as ministers afraid to say….”that dude is trying to get rich using our sacred text and faith as his “marketing tool”. Maybe we true ministers who aren’t trying to get over should lead the call for reigning in those who exploit….I’m thinking “we” are at fault too for letting the Copelands, Osteen’s, Meyers, Jakes, Young Jr.’s, etc…exist without our self governing.

  16. Tarheel says

    William said;

    “I would encourage my ministerial colleagues to look around and see how the general public, particularly the non-churchgoing public, reacts when they fully understand this business.”

    So long as “fully understanding” includes an explanation of the “self employment tax” that we pay….without the housing allowance it’s completely possible that a minister making 45k woukd pay $13,500 in federal taxes alone….meaning they’ll only bring home just over 30k….not counting state tax withholding…then all utilities and housing expenses must come out of that….no other member of society (who is not actually self employed) pays that high of a rate on a salary of 45k.