Can a Pastor Claim a Housing Allowance on More than One Home?

clergy housing allowance exemption on second homeA reader asks:  Can a pastor claim a housing allowance on more than one home?

According to a recent Tax Court ruling (Driscoll v. Commissioner, 135TC27 of 2010), pastors can claim a housing allowance on more than one home!

However, I wouldn’t bank on this remaining true for long.

This case involved Christian musician and ordained minister Phil Driscoll, who for several years had claimed a housing allowance on both his primary residence and a secondary residence, as declared by the nonprofit ministry he worked for.

The IRS ruled that he could not claim a clergy housing allowance for the secondary residence.  Driscoll appealed the case to the United States Tax Court, which ruled in his favor, claiming the Congress did not explicitly specify in its enabling legislation whether the housing allowance exemption applied to just one home or multiple homes.

I’ve mentioned before that the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is studying some of the tax issues for pastors, and will likely recommend to Congress that it clarify whether a pastor is allowed a housing allowance on one home or two.

My guess is that this will happen in the next year or two…but it’s just a guess on my part.

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About the author

Rich Rich writes on personal finance from a pastor's perspective here at Money Wise Pastor. He loves In-N-Out Burger (and has the t-shirts to prove it), urban living, homeschooling, Gungor concerts, helping people succeed in life and work, camping, dreaming with his wife, and equipping his five children to become financially faithful and free. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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