Should Minister's Housing Be Taxed?
The courts will decide that question.
As a matter of policy, should ministers get this preferential treatment?
I don't know, and I am not going to try to figure that one out.
The question presumes a neutral position of the decider. That there is someone who objectively decides what is in the best interests of society as a whole. Whether such a person exists, and why, other than being elected, any person should take on that point of view, I doubt.
I am a minister, whose first circle of solidarity beyond my family are my colleagues. And I am a particular minister: retired, financially secure, not currently enjoying the ministerial exemption for housing, although I will in the future.
So decency and solidarity keep me from advocating a position that will damage my colleagues so directly, when such pain is more remote for me.
At the same time, I fear for our professional self-interest leading us astray.
I would not advocate for a response that would further separate us from the people that we serve. We already claim a lot of privileges that they don't have, which they must pay for. I am aware that my spouse works incredibly hard at a profession which demands new knowledge all the time, and a sabbatical is never possible for her. To go to those we serve and insist that they make up what we will lose when the IRS taxes our housing allowance: is that where we ought to be?
So I say, remember the context. The income and wealth are being concentrated at the top. Our position as ministers of locally supported congregations will be better served if the minimum wage is raised significantly, if the social security benefits are increased and not cut, if our congregants have health security, if there is major investments in infrastructure and education, if our communities have abundant food, if we have a growing and expanding economy, if prosperity is shared.