Church Law & Tax Report

November/December 2000
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

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Feature Article

Dismissing Church Employees for Violating Moral Standards Member access only

A federal appeals court issues an important ruling.

Articles

Audits—Churches Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that the revocation of a church's tax-exempt status by the IRS could not be challenged.

Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches, with Richard R. Hammar

Church Business Meetings Member access only

A Utah court ruled that an action taken by members of a nonprofit association by mail-in ballot was invalid since it was not authorized by nonprofit corporation law.

Church Property - Part 1 Member access only

A Nebraska court ruled that a gift to a church in an elderly church member's will had "lapsed" because the church no longer was affiliated with a parent denomination.

Church Property - Part 2 Member access only

An Ohio court ruled that a lease of oil and gas rights in church property could not be revised through oral testimony since the meaning of the lease was clear.

Church Property - Part 3 Member access only

The Delaware Supreme Court ruled that a local church had no legal authority to block a denominational agency's efforts to close the church.
Georgia
Nonprofit Corporation Law

Church Records Member access only

A Georgia court ruled that a member of a nonprofit corporation failed to prove that he had a "proper purpose" for his request to inspect several categories of corporate records.

Church Reporting Requirements Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that a church was not "exempt" from paying more than $5 million in unpaid payroll taxes.

Clergy—Income Taxes Member access only

The IRS has issued a private letter ruling creating two limited exceptions to the general rule that business trips in excess of one year are "indefinite" in nature and therefore the travel expenses incurred during such trips cannot be treated as business expenses.

Confidential and Privileged Communications - Part 1 Member access only

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that incriminating statements made by a murderer to a priest were not protected from disclosure in court.

Confidential and Privileged Communications - Part 2 Member access only

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that statements made by a child molester to a deacon and the deacon's spouse were not protected by the clergy-penitent privilege.

Counseling Member access only

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a counselor could be legally responsible for creating false memories of child abuse.

Employment Practices - Part 1 Member access only

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that it was barred from resolving a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed that she had been unlawfully terminated from her employment.

Employment Practices - Part 2 Member access only

A federal court in Puerto Rico ruled that a church agency did not commit age discrimination by terminating a 48-year-old employee whose performance evaluations consistently rated his work as "poor.”

Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities Member access only

A Louisiana court ruled that a church usher and her church were not liable for injuries sustained by a church member who fell while praying "in the Spirit."
Federal

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy and Church Workers Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that the statute of limitations prevented an adult male from suing a priest and Catholic archdiocese for injuries he suffered as a result of being sexually molested as a minor by the priest.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy and Church Workers - Part 2 Member access only

A Texas court upheld the criminal conviction of a pastor for sexually molesting four teenage girls who were students at a church-operated school.
Virginia

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy and Church Workers Member access only

A Virginia court ruled that an adult male who sexually molested a 15-year-old girl while taking her home from church was in a "custodial" relationship with the girl and therefore was properly convicted of the crime.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy and Church Workers - Part 4 Member access only

The Maine Supreme Court ruled that a church was not responsible for a member's molestation of a minor off of church premises.
Indiana

Taxation—Church Property Member access only

An Indiana court ruled that a church's property was entitled to exemption from property tax even though it did not have legal title to the property.

Taxation—Church Property - Part 2 Member access only

A Connecticut court ruled that an undeveloped tract of land owned by a church was not entitled to exemption from property taxation since.

Unincorporated Churches Member access only

A federal court in the District of Columbia dismissed a discrimination lawsuit that had been brought against a Catholic church and school on the ground that they were "unincorporated entities" that could not be sued.

Wills, Trusts, and Estates Member access only

A North Carolina court ruled that an elderly and mentally infirm woman who transferred all of her property to her church could have the transaction repudiated.

Zoning Member access only

A New York court ruled that it was improper for a local zoning board to deny a church's request for permission to build a new sanctuary in a residential area.