21 December 2017, by Concordia Plan Services
In October, the Federal District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin declared the housing allowance exclusion for clergy unconstitutional. The final order on the case was entered Dec. 13. The decision does not impact clergy who live in parsonages, only cash housing allowances.
Although the final order was entered, the court delayed the effect of the order until 180 days after the conclusion of all appeals. We believe that this decision will almost certainly be appealed to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which could make a decision on the constitutionality of the housing allowance. Ultimately, the case could be considered by the United States Supreme Court. The entire appeals process could take years.
We will continue to closely monitor the case and provide any relevant updates that could impact LCMS called workers. During this appeals process the Church Alliance, a coalition of chief executives from 38 church benefit boards including CPS President and CEO Jim Sanft, could seek possible legislative options to remedy or lessen the impact of the ruling.
Because the court delayed the effective date until all appeals are concluded, we at CPS believe that clergy can continue to apply the housing allowance exclusion as they have.