The Church Network’s closing general session was led by Richard Hammar, JD, CPA. Dr. Hammer has been a speaker for the conference since 1983 and his session provides the legal and tax updates for churches. According to Hammar, the below topics are current issues facing courts that may impact churches in the United States:
- Charitable contributions – a significant number of donations are disallowed due to the lack of proper substantiation.
- Designated funds –legal right for donors to sue the church for not following the restricted purpose of the contribution.
- Housing allowance – constraints on the housing allowance and housing income tax affects on the minister.
Furthermore, Congress is currently reviewing legislature for the following:
- Eliminate the rebuttable presumption (created under the Intermediate Sanctions provisions requiring compensation be 1> approved in advance by the authorizing board, 2> based on comparable data and 3> documented adequately and timely basis)
- Repeal UBIT exclusion for gains on sale of property
- Only allow charitable deductions made from January – April 15th
- 2% floor for all charitable contributions
- Eliminate the Johnson Amendment (prohibits 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates)
- Increase charitable mileage rate to 17 cents (current rate is 14 cents)
- Debt relief for student loans
In 2016 churches were in court for the following reasons:
#1 – Property Disposition
#2 – Sex with a minor
#3 – Personal injury
#4 – Insurance and zoning/clergy disputes
For more information on Dr. Hammar’s session, or on how your church may be affected by these court rulings contact Becky DaVee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Hammar is the author of several books, including Pastor, Church & Law, the annual Church & Clergy Tax Guide, Reducing the Risk, the biannual Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, and the Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches. He also serves as the senior editor of Church Law & Tax Report, a bimonthly newsletter for churches and clergy.