IRS Determines to Give AtheistsTax Exemption as a Religion 08/26/2013

“The federal government wants to give Annie Laurie Gaylor a tax break for leading the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Reports Bob Smietana of Religious News Service. “But Gaylor, an outspoken atheist from Madison, Wisc., wants to stop them - and she's asking a federal judge for help.”

The standoff is the latest twist in a court battle over the parsonage exemption for clergy, a tax break that allows "ministers of the gospel" to claim part of their salary as a tax-free housing allowance.

Gaylor's organization says the exemption gives religious groups an unfair advantage. That makes it unconstitutional, the foundation's lawsuit claims.

The government lawyers say that atheist leaders can be ministers, too, since atheism can function as a religion.

The legal status of the parsonage exemption has been challenged for more than a decade since a dispute between the IRS and the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California over Warren’s housing allowance of more than $70,000.

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