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October 18, 2017
Managing Your Church Blog, October, 2017
Trump Tax Plan • Church Security • ‘Tiny House’ Debate: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Trump Tax Plan • Church Security • ‘Tiny House’ Debate: News Roundup

Study Examines Potential Effects of Trump’s Tax Plan. “If you make between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, you’ll probably give less to charity under President Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan. So says a study commissioned by Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs. Back in May, researchers from Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy ran the numbers on the Trump administration’s proposal to double the standard deduction from $6,300 to $12,600 for individuals, and from $12,600 to $24,000 for joint filers. This week, key Republicans affirmed the plan, which also increases the child tax credit and eliminates most itemized deductions except for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. The changes, which still have to get past Congress, would mean less money in the federal government’s pockets—and also mean less for ministries. ‘The Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code is just that—a framework,’ said Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). ‘The details’—many of which are left up to Congress to decide—‘are what will tell the real story’” (“God Loves a Cheerful Itemizer,” Christianity Today).

For help understanding current tax laws, turn to the 2017 Church & Clergy Tax Guide.

Security Firms Hear from Churches After Tennessee Shooting. “Churches all across the country felt the shock and heartbreak Burnette Chapel Church of Christ experienced after losing a member and having several injured in a mass shooting after Sunday services. Local security firms told News 4 they've received dozens [of] calls and emails from other ministers who are now trying to get security training. . . . Reverend Walter Reid Jr. is senior pastor of Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church in Nashville. His church has had an armed guard for years. ‘We do have security, armed security, whenever the church doors are open,' Reid said. ‘We feel that by our living in the society in which we live we have no control over who comes through the doors of the church. For the welfare and the safety of our congregation we feel that the armed guard is a necessity’” (“Church leaders reach out to security firms for training following Antioch church shooting,” WSMV).

In the wake of violent attacks, how can churches stay vigilant as they assess their security needs and vulnerabilities? Read this article for insights from attorney and risk manager Gisele Kalonzo-Douglas.

‘Tiny House’ Dispute Settled for Minnesota Church. “A St. Cloud church and the City of St. Cloud have settled a dispute over the church's use of a 'tiny house' for a homeless person. St. John's Episcopal Church filed a complaint against the city in federal court in August of 2016, after the city denied a conditional use permit for the 132-square-foot house on wheels next to the church off of Cooper Avenue South. Attorney Bob Feigh with Gray Plant and Mooty, which is representing the church pro bono, says the city has now approved a conditional use permit after the church agreed to replace the 'tiny house' with a 384-square-foot structure that is compliant with building codes and has a foundation and water and sewer hookups. . . . He says the church has secured $50,000 in financing for the new 384-square-foot house, which will be built with donated labor from St. Cloud Technical & Community College” (“Church, City Settle ‘Tiny House’ Dispute,” KNSI).

For building projects large and small, check out this feature article in the latest issue of Church Law & Tax Report.

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Emily Lund is assistant editor for Church Law & Tax.