FIRST UPDATE: The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago issued its decision on March 16, 2019, ruling the clergy housing allowance to be constitutionally permissible. Read more here.
SECOND UPDATE: The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) announced it will not petition the US Supreme Court to review the Seventh Circuit’s decision.
Oral arguments were heard nearly six months ago in the appeal to the ruling determining the clergy housing allowance tax benefit was an unconstitutional preference for religion.
But no decision on that appeal has come yet.
Is that unusual?
The short answer is no, according to several attorneys who are not directly involved with the litigation, but either specialize in church legal issues or possess familiarity with the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago (the court hearing the case), or both.
The primary reasons are the complexity and significance of the case, given the collective value of the benefit (roughly $1 billion annually), the longevity of the benefit (about 65 years), and the First Amendment issues the case raises.