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Church Law & Tax Report

May/June 2018
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

Feature Article

Integrating Tax Reform for 2018—and Beyond

Integrating Tax Reform for 2018—and Beyond Member access only

Ten notable changes, and what they mean, for churches and their employees.


Why Hiring Ex-Offenders Should Be a Priority for Churches

Why Hiring Ex-Offenders Should Be a Priority for Churches Member access only

How churches can prioritize support and employment for those leaving prison—while still considering the risks.

Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches, with Richard R. Hammar
New York
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities; Workers Compensation

Court Rules Workers’ Compensation Insurance Is Exclusive Benefit for Job-Related Injuries Member access only

Employees are precluded from electing to sue their employing church in a civil lawsuit in an attempt to obtain greater damages.
Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Statute of Limitations Bars Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Member access only

Woman's lawsuit seeking monetary damages for the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a youth ministry volunteer over several years was barred by the state statute of limitations
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities; Schools

School Not Responsible for Student’s Suicide Member access only

Court ruled that a parochial school was not responsible for the suicide of a freshman student who was a victim of relentless bullying.
Clergy - Selection; Nonprofit Corporation Law; Officers, Directors, and Trustees

Church’s Failure to Follow Bylaws Nullifies Actions Member access only

Court deems selection of a pastor, board member resignations, and special meeting null and void.
District of Columbia
Breach of Contract; Defamation; Judicial Resolution of Church Disputes

Pastor's Age Discrimination Claim Against a Denominational Agency Was Barred by the "Ministerial Exception." Member access only

The "ecclesiastical abstention doctrine" does not necessarily preclude resolution of pastor's claims of breach of contract, wrongful eviction, and defamation, so long as doing so would not implicate religious doctrine.
Confidential and Privileged Communications

First Amendment Religion Clauses Prohibit Court from Resolving Confidential Communications Claim  Member access only

First Amendment religion clauses prevented the civil courts from resolving a parishioner's claim that a priest improperly disclosed his confidential communications without permission.
Breach of Contract; Charitable Contributions

Court Not Barred by First Amendment’s Religion Clauses in Donor’s Designated Contribution Claim  Member access only

The court concluded that each of the plaintiff's claims could be resolved without recourse to "questions of religious doctrine or ecclesiastical polity,"


Q&A: Did Tax Reform Affect Reimbursements of Entertainment Expenses?

Q&A: Did Tax Reform Affect Reimbursements of Entertainment Expenses? Member access only

An accountable reimbursement plan enables pastors and staff members to receive reimbursements without facing tax consequences.