Churches’ Exemption from State Unemployment Taxes

This issue may be reviewed in Oregon.

Church Law and Tax 1992-07-01 Recent Developments

Unemployment Taxes

The Archdiocese of Portland has asked the United States Supreme Court to review a decision of the Oregon Supreme Court that abolished the exemption of churches from state unemployment taxes. The highly controversial ruling of the Oregon Supreme Court was fully explained under the topic “unemployment taxes” in the November-December 1989 edition of this newsletter. In urging review by the United States Supreme Court, the Archdiocese noted that forcing churches to pay unemployment taxes “will cause governmental intrusion into the religious affairs of church employers through [Oregon’s] eligibility and benefits charging scheme which requires the state to adjudicate, in disputed cases, the doctrinal justifications of a church in discharging an employee for cause.” Review by the United States Supreme Court is purely discretionary (it agrees to hear only about 3% of all appeals). This case may interest the Court, however, because of its imposition of a direct tax on churches. Any further developments will be reported in this newsletter.

See Also: Unemployment Taxes

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