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Church Law & Tax Report

November/December 2018
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

Feature Article

Eight Legal Considerations for Church Membership

Eight Legal Considerations for Church Membership Member access only

From voting rights to discipline, a closer look at why membership matters.


Five Lessons from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

Five Lessons from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report Member access only

How church leaders should respond as public revulsion for child-abuse scandals grows.

Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches, with Richard R. Hammar
New Jersey
Taxation - Church Property

Church Forced to Pay Taxes for Converted Building Due to Assessment Date Member access only

The tax-exempt status of church property generally is determined by the actual use of the property on the "tax assessment" date.
Payroll Tax Reporting

IRS Wins Ruling Against Church for Misclassifying Employees Member access only

Tax Court says the tax-collection agency acted properly in assessing penalties against a church.
First Amendment; Judicial Resolution of Church Disputes; Retirement Plans

Court Barred by First Amendment from Resolving a Dismissed Minister’s Terminated Retirement Benefits Member access only

The court concluded that the plaintiff "sought review of the procedures that resulted in ecclesiastical decisions and necessitated a review of religious law and practice, which is exactly the inquiry that the First Amendment prohibits civil courts from undertaking."
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities

Church Not Responsible for Pedestrian Accident Near Premises Member access only

Church was not responsible for injuries sustained by a member who was struck by a car when crossing a five-lane road that separated the church from an overflow parking lot across the street.
Employment Practices; Judicial Resolution of Church Disputes; Schools

'Ecclesiastical Abstention' Fails to Prevent School Employee's Discrimination Lawsuit Member access only

The "ecclesiastical abstention doctrine," which bars the courts from resolving issues of internal church governance, did not prevent a church's preschool director from suing the church for disability discrimination.
New York
Church Property

Episcopal Diocese Wins Property Case in Breakaway Parish Movement Member access only

Most church property disputes can be resolved on the basis of neutral principles of law contained in deeds, local church charters and bylaws, and denominational bylaws.


Q&A: Should Unanimity Be Required When a Church's Governing Board Votes on a Significant Issue?

Q&A: Should Unanimity Be Required When a Church's Governing Board Votes on a Significant Issue? Member access only

Requiring unanimous approval can easily immobilize the church when it comes to important decisions