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Eligibility of Lay Church Employees for the Housing Allowance

The Tax Court issues an important decision.

The Tax Court issues an important decision—Haimowitz v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 1997-40 (1997)

Article summary. The Tax Court recently addressed the issue of whether an administrator of a Jewish synagogue qualified for a housing allowance. The Court ruled that the administrator did not qualify since he was not ordained, commissioned, or licensed, and there was no evidence that a housing allowance had been properly designated. This feature article reviews the Court's decision and addresses its relevance to other religious workers.

The tax code contains a number of special provisions that apply to "ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministers." One of those special provisions is the housing allowance. Stated simply, a portion of a minister's compensation that is designated in advance by an employing church as a housing allowance is excluded from taxable income for ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • May 1, 1997

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