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A quick review of the most important information in this edition

May/June 2018

When President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law this past December, ministers and other church leaders wondered about the new law's implications for ministry in 2018 and beyond. To help leaders better understand what this tax law does—and doesn't—mean for churches and their employees, our Feature Article offers insights from three experts who are each attorneys and CPAs: Richard Hammar, senior editor of Church Law & Tax Report; Frank Sommerville, an editorial advisor for this publication; and Ted Batson, a partner with the accounting firm CapinCrouse.

Around 600,000 prisoners reenter American communities yearly and "the stigma around individuals with criminal histories has made their reentry into society exponentially more difficult," said the authors of this article. "Though employers are liable if they discriminate and choose not to hire an individual because of his or her criminal background, employers can still get away with that bias fairly easily." As communities of caring people, churches must ask, "How can churches offer employment opportunities for ex-offenders without putting their congregations at risk?" This article seeks to answer this and other pertinent questions.

A Michigan appeals court ruled that the civil courts are not barred by the First Amendment's religion clauses from resolving a donor's claim that the church failed to apply his designated contribution to his designated purpose, so long as religious doctrine was not implicated.

The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a church's failure to follow its bylaws in the selection of a pastor, the resignation of two board members, and the conduct of a specially called business meeting rendered these actions null and void.

The federal Court of Claims ruled that a parochial school was not responsible for the suicide of a freshman student who was a victim of relentless bullying.

After a federal district court ruling last year jeopardized the housing allowance benefit in three states, some Chicago pastors and other religious leaders filed an appeal in February to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. If a decision invalidating the housing allowance were ever applied nationwide, it would create "almost $1 billion in new taxes each year," claimed BecketLaw.org.

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