Hooray for me! (26 USC 107)

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Hooray for me! (26 USC 107)

Postby Paths of the Sea » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:10 pm

Judge Crabb has denied the Government motion to dismiss for lack of standing and will allow the FFRF to challenge the constitutionality of the income tax free ministerial housing allowance (including the benefit allowed to basketball ministers and similar sorts).

May the case proceed speedily on its journey to the Supreme Court should Congress and the President not step in to cure what ails IRC 107.

See:

http://www.ffrf.org/news/releases/ffrf- ... rs-hurdle/

(excerpt)

Judge Crabb finds standing to sue
FFRF parish exemption case clears hurdle
August 29, 2012

A district court gave the green light to the right of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s nonbelieving directors to continue their challenge of the parish exemption giving preferential tax benefits to “ministers of the gospel.”

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, Western District of Wisconsin, issued a strong 20-page opinion and order today permitting FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor and President Emerita Anne Gaylor to pursue their challenge of the 1954 law.

> “We are very pleased that the court has acknowledged
> our injury and right to sue over this,”

said Barker...

FFRF seeks a declaration that the federal statute creating the parish exemption violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. FFRF asks the court to enjoin the allowance or grant of tax benefits exclusively for ministers of the gospel under 28 U.S.C. § 2201 that 26 U.S.C. §107.

The federal government argued that the FFRF directors would not have standing to challenge the law...

Crabb’s ruling means FFRF’s lawsuit will go forward to be argued on its merits.

-----------------------------------------------------

Here's a link to the Court's ruling:

http://www.ffrf.org/uploads/legal/Geith ... ismiss.pdf

Sincerely,
Maury Enthusiast!

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:15 pm

One Forbes contributor has already posted a column on these historic developments. That can be found at:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreill ... ientology/

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:33 pm

Forbes has now published another column on the issue and the prospects that it will become a presidential election issue for Obama and Romney to address.

Here's the link:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreill ... ministers/

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby wserra » Sat Sep 01, 2012 2:03 pm

Impressive opinion, and nice set-up by plaintiffs to establish an injury so as not to have to rely on "taxpayer standing". Good job, excellent (if non-final) result.

Political issue? Not the proverbial snowball's chance in hell. Neither side wishes to take this issue on - no political mileage, so no political will. The Constitution, unfortunately, doesn't vote.

But fine work by the FFRF. I may have to contribute.
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sat Sep 01, 2012 2:29 pm

Wserra,

Thanks for that analysis.

My fantasy remains alive, however, that Obama and Romney may be compelled to address the issue.

The Pacific Justice Institute earlier pledged to intervene on behalf of "ministers" and help the Government defend the case. They did so in the earlier California case, but it has yet to be seen whether it will keep its pledge to try and take part in the Wisconsin case.

There could be amici from the religious lobby coming out of the woodwork to try and protect the interests of their constituency.

They could compel the candidates to speak to the issue.

I can only hope. The issue certainly deserves more press and public attention than it has gotten to date.

Maybe the granting of "standing" will get a little fire started on all of that.

Sincerely,
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby wserra » Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:44 pm

Paths of the Sea wrote:My fantasy remains alive, however, that Obama and Romney may be compelled to address the issue.


If alive at all, it's on life support.

I happen to agree with you on the merits. Those politicians who know what the First Amendment is apparently do as well, as evidenced by the quick and silent legislative action on Rick Warren to pre-empt the Ninth Circuit. But what makes you think that public opinion would be on your side? And whatever makes you think that any politician would want to advocate increased taxes on Pastor Jim?
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:53 pm

Wserra,

My fantasies about the whole issue have been on life support for years.

Judge Crabb's decision provided a much needed boost.

A number of my contacts, sympathetic to the cause, had prophesied that "standing" would be denied.

It may yet be, on appeal, but for now the case can proceed on its merits and we can, I think, reasonably look for the case to proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court if Congress and the President do not act to moot the issue.

I think there is much public opinion to be developed on the issue, if the media and the public properly nuture the issue.

The voices to be raised in an effort to defend the present IRC 107 and all of its abuses would be a valuable tool to use in developing the need to revisit IRC 107 and its future.

Really, who of any notoriety in the public, political square, can reasonably defend allowing for million dollar tax free benefits for a fellow just because he's a "minister", and allowing all of the employees at Pepperdine to register for the benefit while denying folks like Oscar Haimowitz recognition as a "minister"?

I've been crying in the wilderness about the matter for years. I think it is now time for those better equipped to take the matter in to the mainstream and, in part, compel the presidential candidates to address this historic and developing matter.

Sincerely,
Maury Enthusiast!

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby ashlynne39 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:23 pm

If public sentiment on your side is a goal then I think you are wrong. The religious right will see this as a slipperly slope to taking away tax exemptions for churches and whip everyone up into a frenzy and I suspect they will win the argument in the court of public opinion. I understand what your point is in this case, and while I have no respect for your organization I do see your point and don't necessarily disagree because it seems there are some abuses taking place. But the religious right and I think mainstream America aren't going to see the fine point of this case. They are going to see a big picture war on religion. I'm imagining Bill OReilly right now talking about this the way he does about Christian Christmas displays. I don't think you will ever win public sentiment and in my opinion would be better off focusing on the lawsuit rather than the public until it is a done deal.

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Judge Roy Bean » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:31 pm

Paths of the Sea wrote:... I think it is now time for those better equipped to take the matter in to the mainstream and, in part, compel the presidential candidates to address this historic and developing matter.

Sincerely,
Maury Enthusiast!


There's no chance this will become a debatable issue in this election cycle. Obama will not alienate the church memberships, nor would Romney, even though he comes from a religion with an unpaid clergy.
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:38 pm

ashlynne39 wrote:. . . While I have no respect for your organization I do see your point and don't necessarily disagree because it seems there are some abuses taking place. . .I'm imagining Bill OReilly right now talking about this the way he does about Christian Christmas displays.


It's not my organization.

I happen to be a theist.

However, I do support the FFRF effort in this case.

Some abuses?
Many, many, many abuses!

If the case is not decided by summary judgment, then such case studies may be part of the factual record supporting the FFRF claim regarding the UNconstitutional nature of the law and its administration.

Sincerely,
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:30 pm

I forgot to comment on why I quoted that part about Bill O'Reilly.

I was going to note that if it should be the case that Bill takes up the issue I should be available to engage him in the discussion.

I don't know if Annie, her husband, or one of their lawyers would discuss the matter with Bill. I suspect they might. However, if he wants to discuss it and, perhaps, with the added angle of why theists might support the effort, here I am! :D

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby wserra » Sun Sep 02, 2012 2:48 am

Judge Roy Bean wrote:There's no chance this will become a debatable issue in this election cycle.


Sorry, PotS, that's clearly right. I agree that the issue deserves better, but it's not gonna happen.
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:24 am

wserra wrote:
Judge Roy Bean wrote:There's no chance this will become a debatable issue in this election cycle.


Sorry, PotS, that's clearly right. I agree that the issue deserves better, but it's not gonna happen.


Party poopers!

I hope I can come back in a few weeks and say "I told you so"!

I can live with the disappointment if it doesn't happen.

The summary judgment in favor of the FFRF plaintiffs will be a sweet enough victory!

Would you deny me that fantasy as well!

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby ashlynne39 » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:44 am

Paths of the Sea wrote:It's not my organization.


Ok, you seem awfully invested for someone who isn't part of the organization, from:

Paths of the Sea wrote:I was going to note that if it should be the case that Bill takes up the issue I should be available to engage him in the discussion.


to the title:

Paths of the Sea wrote:Hooray for me!


Paths of the Sea wrote:I hope I can come back in a few weeks and say "I told you so"!


Time will tell but I don't see either candidate touching this with a ten foot pole. I think the FFRF has been overly confident in the amount of public support.

Paths of the Sea wrote:Would you deny me that fantasy as well!


Yes, I would deny you that fantasy . . . mainly because I have issue with wishing the FFRF good luck on any of its endeavors. I'm still not clear how the FFRF has standing in this case. I'll be curious to see if it goes up on appeal on the standing issue.

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sun Sep 02, 2012 4:59 am

ashlynne39 wrote:
(1)

Ok, you seem awfully invested for someone who isn't part of the organization, from:

(2)

Time will tell but I don't see either candidate touching this with a ten foot pole. I think the FFRF has been overly confident in the amount of public support.

(3)

Yes, I would deny you that fantasy . . . mainly because I have issue with wishing the FFRF good luck on any of its endeavors. I'm still not clear how the FFRF has standing in this case. I'll be curious to see if it goes up on appeal on the standing issue.



As to (1):

I have discussed that at various times and in various places. I was invested long before the FFRF decided to take up the cause.

As to (2):

Since I last posted, I have submitted an on-line inquiry to both campaigns in an effort to have them and the candidates address the issue. No, I'm not holding my breath, but I did ask and did get confirmations that my inquiries at least were delivered and that the campaigns try to deal with such things. Yeah, right! I'll try to let you know if I get a reply.

As to (3):

Well, would you rather wait and see whatever becomes of the Grassley Commission which recognized the constitutional issue regarding IRC 107 but, rather than do anything about it, which would have been a simple "fix" had they been so inclined, Grassley "outsourced" the matter to some friends in the religious community to think about for a few years and then give him some suggestions???

Seems to me like "standing" is going to be contested on appeal and, in my opinion, if the FFRF is up to it, the case will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court; and the "standing" issue and on the merits. That's one reason why I think a quick summary judgment in favor of the FFRF could be the best that might be expected and would hasten the case moving up the line.

Maybe Congress and the President will act to moot the case, before or after Grassley's commission gives the matter further consideration; maybe they won't!

Sincerely,
Maury Enthusiast!

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:51 pm

Peter J. Reilly at Forbes has now posted another followup column, one of his own, with emphasis on the interests of the Southern Baptist blogger William Thornton in the issue.

Thornton recognizes the problems with the abuses inherent in what is allowed by IRC 107, and is concerned that such abuses should be addressed pro-actively before what he sees as something good in the law is completely eliminated.

Here's the link to Peter's Forbes column out today:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreill ... x-abuse/3/

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby wserra » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:59 am

Paths of the Sea wrote:Thornton recognizes the problems with the abuses inherent in what is allowed by IRC 107


And we're not only talking about the Rick Warrens and Kenneth Copelands of the world, who get to deduct more every year in "housing allowance" than the average family of four makes in total in two or three years, although that would be bad enough. We're also talking about folks like convicted tax felon Phil Driscoll (whom we have discussed). Please note that Driscoll's Eleventh Circuit loss earlier this year only invalidated the deduction for his lakeside vacation "home", because Driscoll was piggish enough to claim it as well as the deduction for his primary residence.

I'm moving this thread to the tax policy forum, and for that reason adding the cite to PotS' subject line. Hopefully he won't mind. FWIW, I agree with him that not only is § 107 an abuse - the IRC is, after all, filled with those - but it violates the Establishment Clause.
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:47 pm

wserra wrote:
Paths of the Sea wrote:
I'm moving this thread to the tax policy forum, and for that reason adding the cite to PotS' subject line.

Hopefully he (PotS) won't mind.



Don't mind at all.

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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby wserra » Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:59 pm

ashlynne39 wrote:I have no respect for your organization
...
I have issue with wishing the FFRF good luck on any of its endeavors


Why is that (in particular, the "no respect" part)? You can disagree with their aims, of course. But you're a lawyer, they seek to accomplish their aims through traditional litigation, and they (unlike, for example, the Discovery Institute) have had success in doing so. Even if you think they should lose the suit over § 107 on the merits, isn't it a good thing that they have so far succeeded in broadening the standing requirement?
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Re: Hooray for me!

Postby Paths of the Sea » Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:10 pm

wserra wrote:

. . . isn't it a good thing that they have so far succeeded
in broadening the standing requirement?



That was directed at the lawyerly "ashlynne".

I have opined on earlier occasions that the case presents the opportunity to make history on the "standing" issue as well as the challenge to IRC 107.

I think it is doing that!

However, in such matters it is wise to be cautious regarding the application of the "standing" decision in the case. I have a already seen some comments indicating that some might want to stretch it a little too far.

I also note that the National Convention of the FFRF is early in October, only about a month away.

Here’s a link to the announcement:

http://ffrf.org/outreach/convention/

I’m not an FFRF member and don’t have plans to be there, but it could be that the historic developments in the FFRF IRC 107 Challenge will be prominently noted and, who knows, the Convention might provide an appropriate platform for calling on Romney and Obama to take a stand on the issue.

I can hope; if the candidates don’t address the issue before then!

Sincerely,
Maury Enthusiast!


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