Bill would ensure continuation of favorable tax status for religious groups

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) announced on Tuesday that he would introduce legislation that shields religious institutions from paying unnecessary taxes.

The Faith and Fairness Act would provide favorable tax status to faith-based groups so they are able to provide community leaders with housing.

A recent court ruling found it unconstitutional for churches to provide tax-exempt housing allowances to ministers rather than housing them on a church property.

“The tax-exempt housing allowance helps ensure that faith-based institutions are able to extend their resources as far as possible to minister to their communities,” Cassidy said. “It has been protected by federal law for generations, and its continuation is important for religious liberty. Religious institutions should be able to focus their resources on building faith and serving their people, not paying the federal government.”

Cassidy’s legislation would ensure that theistic and non-theistic institutions are able to continue receiving favorable tax status, which traditionally has been the position of the federal government.

Specifically, the bill would expand the definition of “minister” under IRS code to include duly recognized officials of non-theistic spiritual, moral or ethical organizations. The change would ensure that the rental value of a parsonage is not included in a religious institution’s gross income.