"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Parsonage Tax Benefit Abused by Wealthy Clergy Now Applies to Multiple Homes

The Wall Street Journal this week reported on a recent U.S. tax court ruling that says the tax rules allowing ministers to buy and maintain their "parsonage" tax free - get this - it applies to MULTIPLE homes!

Yes, the tax provision put into place decades ago to help men-of-the-cloth earning meager incomes to be able afford housing, can now be abused by wealthy clergy to purchase and maintain multiple homes - all tax-free.

Furthermore, there is no monetary limit to the tax-free dollars. The fair market rental value of the property including maintenance, furnishings and utilities can be exempted - this could be a small apartment, or could be a multi-million dollar mansion.

And as the Wall Street Journal reports, it can be applied to multiple clergy homes. And to make it worse, clergy can receive a double benefit, as they still can deduct mortgage interest paid if they itemize their deductions. Pastor William Thornton has an excellent article on his blog this week in which he rightly points out that the disgust over this benefit is not over typical pastors who save a few thousand dollars in taxes each year. Rather it is the wealthy ministers who use the loophole to avoid paying taxes on multiple tens of thousands of dollars of income used to buy lavish homes, sometimes second homes, that puts this clergy tax benefit at risk of repeal.

Most Christians would not object to a pastor and his family enjoying such a benefit if they are earning a meager, or even reasonable salary from their small church. But all Christians should be appalled that this benefit applies to the extremely wealthy mega church pastors, especially those who misuses the bible and beat their sheep to convince them that God requires 10% of their income be given to the church.

Not surprisingly, most mega church members are clueless as to the lavish lifestyle their beloved pastors live. Last year it took Brett Shipp at WFAA to expose Ed Young's "parsonage" valued at over a million dollars, and that he owned a second home, a Miami beach house.

I wonder if Ed Young pays for both of these homes and their upkeep and their utilities with tax-free income?

Not sure if the FBC Jax faithful realize that their own pastor owns two homes now. Mac and Deb Brunson own a home in Jacksonville valued at $900,000 (sitting on property given to him by a church member valued at $307,000), and now according to public records, the Brunson family owns a St. Augustine Beach condo purchased in 2009 for $309,000. Apparently the Brunson's formed a corporation called DDCTW, Inc. which owns the condo in St. Augustine Beach. Deb Brunson and daughter Courtney Chesney are the officers of the corporation, and FBC Jax trustee Jarrett McConnell is the corporation's registered agent.

Given the financial blessings Brunson has, it is pretty laughable to hear Brunson compare himself to Job in his recent sermon series, as some sort of suffering servant of God being attacked by the devil.

I wonder if Mac Brunson pays for both of these homes and their upkeep and their utilities with tax-free income?

In my next article, I will address another aspect of this tax loophole for clergy that spells its doom: how in some Southern Baptist Churches, including FBC Jax, only male vocational ministers get to enjoy the clergy tax benefit, while the female ministers are excluded.

83 comments:

Seneca Griggs said...

I wonder what the St. Augustine condo is worth today. Probably a bad investment.

Long Time FBC Jax Member said...

In the case of Team Brunson at FBC Jax, this loophole may become a non issue. If folks keep waking up and leaving FBC, Mac may be out of money, tax-free or otherwise !

Arce said...

There is more to this travesty. The original idea behind the tax exclusion was that the pastor, having his own home, rather than a church-owned parsonage, would use his home like the parsonage, such as by having people over for work related events -- getting to know the congregants, committee meetings, etc. And imagine Mega pastors having random samples of the membership at their homes. That is less likely than them giving up the tithing demands.

William Thornton said...

Tax policy for the minister's housing allowance should be scrutinized. It is scandalous that minister's can exempt hundreds of thousands of dollars in clergy income on lavish primary and second homes.

Like Tom said, for most of us this is a welcome, very modest, benefit. I might note that the same benefit applies to military personnel also.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FBC Jax Watchdog said...

8:22 - your post is not helpful. No one is saying anyone is a crook.

You obviously have a hard time grasping issues and rationally thinking or writing about them.

Anna A said...

I remember when something similar first raised its head. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. I was concerned then and I am concerned now. It will hurt the smaller churches, and the more honest pastors, not the mega church pastors.

Anonymous said...

Yep, the greedy mega church charlatans are going to make it very hard for the little guy.

And James Brown, I am mean , Seneca, even the guy with one house he paid 150,000 grand for is not worth today what he paid for it. Some can afford a bad investment, like Mac.

You fbcer's better give more. Mac is hurting.

My brother, a businessman, bought a gulffront condo in St Pete 8 years ago which is worth half now. but he made his money in business. Donors and tithers did not pay for it. He is not a "professional Christian" and did not use government tax breaks or housing allowance from tithers to pay for it.

Mac cannot say that. He has made a career of merchandising the Gospel.

WishIhadknown said...

The easy fix is to make the housing allowance a fading benefit that disappears at about “double pay.” Let’s say $100,000 to make it generous and easy.

New BBC Open Forum said...

The easy fix is to make the housing allowance a fading benefit that disappears at about “double pay.”

I have an even better idea. Make it disappear completely. If they're paying a mortgage they can deduct the interest just like anyone else. Did you know you can't deduct the interest on a mortgage on a house that isn't your primary residence or a second home? Yet this loophole will allow "clergy" to not only keep those deductions, they can own as many houses as they want, all tax-free. In a time when the U.S. needs to be finding ways to cut spending, they come up with yet another tax loophole for the most wealthy? The megachurch lobby must be very powerful.

Try to take away the sacred housing allowance, and then you'll hear the cries of "but we have to pay all our FICA taxes." Many churches already give an allowance which pays half anyway, but even if they don't... here's a news flash. So do self-employed people! But when you're self-employed you get to take other deductions, including half the FICA tax you pay.

If your church can't support you in the manner in which you're accustomed, get a "secular" job (as Les would say).

I've met very few preachers who didn't have their hands stuck out. We have a Southern Baptist preacher in the family, and he and his wife expect people to give them things. He was quite miffed one time when he went to buy new tires for his car and the store wouldn't give him a "clergy discount." I once worked in a business where I dealt with churches and church people on a regular basis. Almost inevitably they'd ask, "Do we get a church discount?" And why are you entitled to a "church discount"? You're already not paying sales tax. Would you go to the grocery store and expect them to give you a discount on bread and milk for your family? Try it and watch them laugh in your face.

This sense of entitlement is drilled into them early. Every year Bellevue sponsors (maybe along with other churches and individuals) a "shopping spree" for entering seminary students at MABTS. They ask people to donate gift cards, new laptop computers, furniture, cars, TVs, toys, household goods -- in other words to furnish these students' houses and apartments -- and it's all free. They used to require the donor to deliver everything to the church, but I think they'll at least arrange to pick up heavy items at your home now. The students, regardless of need, just walk in and load up. Thus is born a sense of expectation in many that people will always pony up if they have a need, whether a real need or just a desire. And there will always be people who are more than willing, regardless of the need. Other than the womb-to-tomb welfare state, in what other profession do we see this mindset?

I also think churches should have to pay property taxes on their buildings and property. They're using city and county services, and in some cases (ahem**Bellevue) sitting on millions of dollars in land and buildings while never paying a dime in taxes while homeowners lose their houses every day because they can't pay their taxes. Their taxes wouldn't be so high if they weren't subsidizing churches, some of which are little more than big businesses.

Please don't cite "separation of church and state." That's not in the U.S. constitution.

Sen. Grassley said, "It's fair to question why a clergy member needs a tax-free allowance for more than one home, and whether tax-exempt churches should subsidize millionaire ministers."

Yes, it is. It's also fair to question why Joe Q. Public should subsidize millionaire members of congress.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Jim Brown, do you just sit at your computer 24/7 and wait for bloggers to publish new posts? Why is it lately, when I read someone's new blog post, that the first comment is more often than not penned by you using your late granddaddy's name?

Thy Peace said...

I am afraid oligarchs have captured both parties in this country. I expect no relief from politicians.

Anonymous said...

"In a time when the U.S. needs to be finding ways to cut spending, they come up with yet another tax loophole for the most wealthy? The megachurch lobby must be very powerful."

Richard Land, whom we pay a hefty salary to be in DC who is building bridges to Muslims for us. I wonder how he can support freedom of religion for Islam and think that does not violate our constitution? Islam cannot peacably coexist with our constitution. It is impossible.

Thy Peace said...

Would anyone know what the initials of DDCTW stand for?

New BBC Open Forum said...

In my next article, I will address another aspect of this tax loophole for clergy that spells its doom: how in some Southern Baptist Churches, including FBC Jax, only male vocational ministers get to enjoy the clergy tax benefit, while the female ministers are excluded.

While that could be a factor in the eventual demise of this loophole, I don't see the loophole going away anytime soon. They just increased the size of the loophole, so I don't think they're going to reverse it now.

You're correct that female staff members of most SB churches do not get this tax break. Yet when a man joins the staff of Bellevue (since that's the example I'm most familiar with), if he's not already ordained, there's this big rush to get him ordained. It boils down to one thing... money. Follow the money. David Coombs, anyone?

A woman replaced pedophile "Minister of Prayer," Paul Williams. Her title? "Director of Prayer."

Anonymous said...

Before we rush to eliminate the housing allowance, it is the exact same tax 'loophole' that military personnel benefit from.

What some call an expansion of the HA came not from legislation but from litigation. No church or denominational lobbying had anything to do with it.

While I hate to read someone like NBBCOF's slam against clergy, I understand where it comes from. Some of my colleagues do have a sense of entitlement. There are maybe 40k or so SBC church pastors. Most are like me - don't expect anything, don't ask for anything, and don't complain about anything.

Because of a quirk in tax law we get a W-2 like any employee yet pay the full 15+% seta and medicare tax. Few churches budget to increase their minister's pay to cover half of that. Very few.

Yes, we get a double tax break, as the very well informed BBCOF commenter said.

Wouldn't be a bad idea if some actual data were given on this.

Those with some degree of ire against clergy probably come by it honestly out of appalling experiences with us; hence, the broad brush.

William Thornton

Bojac said...

WD.Stay after these anomalies that exist in the religious world today.I note there are some who are critical of your stance. I have pastored a sbc church for many yrs. However because a church of 300 is not on the scale of a church mega sized the pastor is on a lower rung as well. I am naieve enough to believe we should lay up treasuries in heaven and not on earth.

Katie said...

One would hope that Christians could set a better example, but of course that is wishful thinking. Like all tax issues there seems to be no end of abuse.

A history lesson looks like it might be order. The idea of partial government pay for housing took over centuries ago, not decades. During the early years of our Republic, politicians had to spend days and days in their journey to Philadelphia and/or New York and the return trip. So they either had a second home or they availed themself of the hospitality of co-workers. That idea is still with us because many of our representatives travel l,000's of miles away from Washington D.C. I don't have a problem with them having two homes and the tax benefits that go with them. It's the nature of centralized government. I'd be pretty upset if my Senators and Representatives were never here. They are supposed to be representing us.

The SCOTUS decided years ago, that this benefit could apply to civilians. My own mom and dad have a fifth wheel that they take almost everywhere and yes, they get the tax break for having a second home.

It seems to me that this tax break should be available equally to all citizens. I do however recognize that a housing allowance for clergy is something completely different, especially if it is treated as a parsonage.

William, not sure how you are relating this to the military. I served for 20 years and don't recognize what you are referring to. Would you please elaborate? It is true that a housing allowance is provided. But for many active duty, that means providing a roof over one's head in the form of barracks, or a 6X3ft coffin rack, which isn't exactly a place of creature comforts. There are also payments for those who live off-base up to a certain limit based on pay grade. Again, this is about the transitory nature of military personnel and they do not get a tax benefit for the housing allowance in terms of mortage interest and property tax unless they actually own a home.

If my parents can get a legal tax break for a recreational vehicle, I'm having trouble if the same benefit is not offered to Pastors. If the scoundrels in government can get the tax break, I can't see why a Pastor should not also get it. (Not saying they are all scoundrels, but many are).

I understand that the point of Tom's article is about greed and as always, I agree with Tom. The money issues among Christians is shameful and I believe it does great harm to the body of Christ.

DAWG Watchdog said...

Would anyone know what the initials of DDCTW stand for?

Don't know for sure but here is a good guess:

D for Mac's first name Donald

D for the wife Debbie

C for only daughter Courtney

T for oldest son Trey

W for youngest son Wills

Just a guess but a pretty good one I would bet.

Who would by a condo anyway. They are such ripoffs with their condo fees that are pretty much open ended.

New BBC Open Forum said...

And that, William, is what we always come back to. Any observation of bad behavior by or criticism of one or a few clergy is seen as a "slam" against all clergy. Nowhere in my comments did I use the word "all." I will stick by what I said about "most I've known" though. Most preachers I've known personally (and their families) have seemed to have the expectation that people owe them something. Not all, but in my experience, most. You've never struck me as that type, but I don't know you. My comments are based upon my own experiences.

Were you perhaps offended at my observation about the "free shopping spree" because you're a MABTS grad? I just don't see why someone is owed a new laptop and a furnished house and sometimes even a car because they choose to be a "preacher boy" instead of a mathematician, teacher, nurse, or accountant. It only seems to plant the entitlement mentality out of the starting gate. A number (I don't know how many) of these kids drop out of seminary after a semester or two, so hey, enroll a semester, get your free stuff, and drop out. However, if that's what people want to donate their money to, more power to them.

I'm not "slamming" anyone for taking advantage of a legitimate tax deduction. The less money I have to hand the government to waste, the better. I just think there should be a lot fewer loopholes in the law that allow people to take these kinds of deductions. It's not 1921 anymore. The laws need to be changed to level the playing field, and I'm not just talking about ministers.

I notice you can dish it out pretty harshly against other pastors, the GBC, and the SBC on your own blog, but heaven forbid someone would "paint with a broad brush" against one of yours. Sometimes I read things you write on your blog (which I enjoy reading, BTW) and think, "Wow, if *I* wrote that I'd be crucified!" I thought your skin was thicker than that, William.

Oh, and as for military deductions, I believe active duty and disabled military personnel should be adequately compensated. I do not believe that somebody who sat in a stateside office for a few years and pushed a pencil should be entitled to lifelong V.A. medical care. I personally know several people who have taken advantage of this system, too. I know one almost 80-year-old man who experienced some recent hearing loss (as is frequently associated with being almost 80) and needed hearing aids. He could easily afford to buy the highest quality models and did, but when he learned he could get them through the V.A. for free, he returned the ones he bought and got them free from the V.A. Oh, and on top of that, the V.A., in their infinite wisdom, declared that his recent hearing loss was possibly the result of his military service (which was during the '50s!) and is now paying him a monthly disability stipend for "hearing loss." He's otherwise healthy and active, financially well off, and has perfect hearing with hearing aids. If the government wants to cut waste, I can show them several places to start. When 50% of Americans pay $0 in income tax, and a large percentage of those are getting paid by the government (EIC, for one), something's wrong.

Anonymous said...

This is why I quit giving to First Baptist. Why should I work 5 days a week and give 1 days pay a week to the church just to support the lavish lifestyle of Mac and Debbie Brunson. I now help out my 86 year old Dad whose only income is $1600 a month from social security when Mac Brunson and Debbie Brunson bring home over $5000 a week. They remind me alot of the televangelist you see on the TBN network. Talk about fleecing the flock.

Anonymous said...

Hey, we pay sales tax in the state of Louisiana. Churches are not exempt.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't everyone just quit giving to churches and let them die on the vine. Then where would you be? I'm sure of you would be quite thrilled but then I doubt if you even attend a church today.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Would anyone know what the initials of DDCTW stand for?

Deb Desires to Can the Watchdog?

Anonymous said...

If people at First Baptist quit giving altogether then how would Mac and Debbie survive without their fancy cars, condo, trips to europe and their annual spending spree to New York for Christmas shopping.

Seneca Griggs said...

"If people at First Baptist quit giving altogether then how would Mac and Debbie survive without their fancy cars, condo, trips to europe and their annual spending spree to New York for Christmas shopping."

I suspect Mac & the Debster would be okay. Don't know if either of them was born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

Douglas said...

It was Rick Warren that fought for and got tax-free housing allowances for religious folks in America in the first place wasn’t it? I wonder how much money Rick Warren saves on tax free housing allowance and ALL his other tax-free allowances? He is not COMPLETELY upfront and open with the books from his Saddleback/Purpose Driven Empire is he? Rick Warren benefits from it all doesn't he? “Oh I know I’ve been driving in the same old rattily car for the last five years and I live very meagrely indeed and I give most of what I earn away to the poor and down trodden don’t you know? I am not a bad fellow you know. I’m a good Christian man. I do this and that and all sorts of other good things, too numerous to mention here. My great grandfather was led to Jesus by Charles Spurgeon and my Pa was a Baptist pastor and so that must mean I’m a Christian too, eh? Just look at all the good deeds I do, they speak for themselves don’t they. Three cheers for me, eh?”

Anonymous said...

NBBCOF, no, we don't know each other and we're missing each other in this discussion.

Perhaps I mistakenly though that you sounded rather angry and overly broad and perhaps you mistakenly concluded that I was overly sensitive. My feelings aren't hurt. I just don't see the majority of my pastor friends as you do but we're both entitled to our own conclusions based on our experience.

On the Bellevue Shopping Spree, laptops were a couple of decades away from being in common use the last time I was at one of those (and I still don't have a laptop). I think that is a good ministry. At least when I was in school it was very much appreciated by students and their families.

On the question at hand, I would favor tax reform and simplification and/or some legislative adjustment to prevent obvious abuses of the HA.

While I am not as familiar with the military's HA (is the proper term Basic Allowance for Housing?), I understand it is for off-base living expenses. The origin of the clergy HA I presume to be from when most churches owned housing that their minister was required to live in.

Times have changed.

William

New BBC Open Forum said...

It was Rick Warren that fought for and got tax-free housing allowances for religious folks in America in the first place wasn’t it?

The original law has been on the books since 1921. RW just took unfair advantage of it and got both houses of congress to unanimously go along with it. Since when have both houses of congress ever voted 100% for anything?

WARREN V. COMMISSIONER

LOL!

Debate on Clergy Housing Deduction Benefit

New BBC Open Forum said...

No, William. Not angry and was only discussing cases I'm familiar with.

I'm sure there are some seminary students, just like there are many college students, who have needs. My point is they pile in there like gangbusters and walk out with new laptops and other donations regardless of need. Maybe it's because such a show is made out of it that it just rubs the wrong way.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Also, most college students wait until they graduate and are gainfully employed before starting families. It's a choice.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Wade Burleson uses this "loophole." It is easy to throw mud but tough to take, isn't it Wade?

New BBC Open Forum said...

I wonder if this means Steve Gaines is willing to give up his generous housing allowance? And car allowance, etc.?

From Facebook:

Steve Gaines

Why do folks in Washington not "get it" regarding the economy? 1) No more debt; 2) develop a plan to get us out of debt; 3) stop aiding people who can work, but won't; 4) everyone pays 10% income tax, no exceptions, no tax breaks; 5) raise taxes on all imported products. It's not rocket science. Common sense still works.

July 25th at 3:15 p.m.


That's 10% to the church, 10% to the federal government, 7.65 to 15.3% in FICA, approximately 8-9% to the state, and prices on everything will go up. And everyone who wants to work will be able to find a job. Genius.

Tom Kelley said...

A Rabbi went to the barber shop. After his hair cut, he got ready to pay the barber and the barber said, "No Rabbi, I don't charge the clergy for haircuts." So the next morning the barber found a loaf of Jewish rye bread on his doorstep.

A couple of days past and a Catholic priest came in to get his hair cut. He got ready to pay and the barber said, "No Father, I don't charge the clergy for hair cuts." So the next morning he found a bottle of wine on his doorstep.

A couple of days later the Baptist preacher came in to get his hair cut, and when he got ready to pay the barber said, "No Reverend, I don't charge the clergy for their hair cuts." So the next morning, the barber found 15 Baptist preachers on his doorstep...

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the links to the more technical and historic discussion of the HA.

NBBCOF, I have very fond memories of the Bellevue Shopping Spree. I thought that it was a wonderful thing to do for seminary students, many of whom (if not most) were second career folks with families.

My last year in Memphis was the one they had 30+ days of >100 degree temps. I put my BBA and MDiv to work that summer blowing insulation into attics of quite a few Memphians.

But I like the subject of clergy entitlement and will write on it down the road sometime.

William

Anonymous said...

Would anyone know what the initials of DDCTW stand for?
================================
Me thinks it could be for meaning Debbie, Courtney, Trey, Will & perhaps the other D is the one who drafted their new digs . . .nice that they got a condo away from the folks here in Jax - their own little hide-away in St. Augustine.

As our brother says worse & worse! I don't think this is going to hurt the small churches, but help them grow - it's the mega's people that are leaving or should I just say attending but not giving.

Joshua said...

This is clearly abusing the intent (if not the letter) of the law.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 7:21-23

I would hate to be in their shoes. . .

Anonymous said...

After reading this Blog, I would think all Pastors are.......

Crooks

Thieves

Perverts

Liars

Wealthy

My Dad is a Pastor, he is 55 years old.
He is a godly man.
He lives very frugal.
He loves Jesus.
He does not act crazy.
He owns a 1200 square foot home.

Would you do a blog one day on men like this?

Or does that not attract much attention to your writings?

Tom Parker said...

Anonomly:

You said:"After reading this Blog, I would think all Pastors are.......

Crooks

Thieves

Perverts

Liars

Wealthy

My Dad is a Pastor, he is 55 years old.
He is a godly man.
He lives very frugal.
He loves Jesus.
He does not act crazy.
He owns a 1200 square foot home.

Would you do a blog one day on men like this?

Or does that not attract much attention to your writings?"

You must be reading a different blog than this one.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you must be reading a different blog!

Are you kidding me, that kid has a point, there are some bad apples but not all Pastors are jerks!

Tom Parker said...

Anon:

You said to me:"Tom, you must be reading a different blog!

Are you kidding me, that kid has a point, there are some bad apples but not all Pastors are jerks!"

Who said that all pastors are Jerks?

New BBC Open Forum said...

Would you do a blog one day on men like this?

Anonymous, if Watchdog doesn't take you up on this offer, I will. You write it; I'll post it. I think that would be a refreshing change.

There are plenty of pastors like your father out there. We rarely hear about them because of the charlatans who have perverted the word of God in the pursuit of power, money, and fame.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this a subject more about the governments standards rather than a pastor taking legal deductions from the current tax code?

I pay someone to do my taxes for the purpose of making sure I get every tax credit I am able to receive. I would hope my pastor would do the same.

If this discussion is about two houses then that is a different topic. If it is about our dislike of someone getting a tax break we don't get, call your senator.

It is not unethical or illegal for a pastor to own two houses nor to take whatever tax break he can get from them.

I know a pastor who owns six houses, of course five of them are rentals to which he makes extra income. Should his church salary of about 65,000.00 be reduced due to the extra income he receives?

Anonymous said...

I do not disagree with WD's assertions about mega pastors. Some go overboard and abuse the financial benefits. They should be exposed. I would say keep that up.

But I agree with the man about his dad. Most pastors make very little. It would be nice to see a few articles on faithful men who serve God faithfully for little to nothing in the way of salary. I know way more pastors struggling financially heading into retirement than rich ones. I hear way more stories of stingy businessmen controlling the committees of their church refusing to give pastors a decent wage, than I do mega's abusing their system of making too much.

Obviously you can do what stories you wish and write about what you want. Just saying it would be nice to hear a little of what I think is way more prevelent than mega's abusing the system. Or balance things out by doing an article on those lay people who have tons of $$$$ and give nothing to their church. I am not saying tithing, but many give zero.

I like WD and I like what he is saying, but when you commenters swing way off and lump all pastors in with some who are good, and then never look at the log in the eye of lay people also, you lose credibility.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the reasoning behind a housing allowance for more than one home. That ought to be changed. I don't know what constituency Congress was trying to please when it wrote that. Ministers with multiple homes are not a large and popular constituency. There must be some other reason for that.

One thing on the condo owned by your former pastor. If the title is held by corporation, I am not sure that the person who lives there or owns stock in the corporation gets to claim the interest deduction or the housing allowance. Maybe some tax lawyer on here knows. I do not specialize in that area. But my understanding is that for an taxpayer to take a mortgage interest deduction, the taxpayer had to own the home. I thought the same is true for the housing allowance.

Is there a CPA or tax lawyer on here who can answer this?

Thanks.

Louis

Anonymous said...

The law should have a scaling built into it that completely disappears after a pastor makes over a certain amount, say $100,000. While I admire the work that pastors do, I also believe that if a pastor cannot manage a hundred grand while my wife and I work for a combined eighty grand with no deductions, then the pastor has some issues that need to be dealt with for money management.

There should be absolutely no allowances for a second home. Again, I admire pastors, they shouldn't have vacation homes unless they can afford the upkeep and taxes on a second home. It's all about personal management.

If you can afford it, then you can have. Just like in the real world...

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic: Wade Burleson > Louis Zamperini Special Guest at Emmanuel Enid, Sunday Night, August 28, 7:00 P.M..

I am hoping Emmanuel - Enid will broadcast this on the internet (which they have done for past events).

Anonymous said...

Debbie, Donald (Mac Brunson's actual first name), Courtney, Trey, Wills.

DDCTW

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic: Emamnuel - Enid is broadcasting live, the interview of Louis Zamperini now.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that he compares himself to Job. I would not take it too personally. I doubt that he is referring to you at all. You really are not that big of deal.

However, if the shoe fits.....

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Yes, he compared himself to Job.

Never said he was referring to me.

Your comment about the shoe fits...means what?

Anonymous said...

WD.. you are correct.. been in a service where he directly relates himself to JOB. Plus he tweets "oh to be like Job" I am amazed that when a church is struggling to do repairs to buildings and have budget short falls the pastor goes out and buys a condo at $309K. I think at the time of purchase he was asking the church to give $600K to hekp with the budget shortfall. If he can afford a $300K condo, why not give it to the church? If he is truly making $5k a week, why not go without a salary for a while. Surely they have no debt and tons in savings. Heard on the radio today that a school superintendent is giving up his $800K annual salary for the next 3 years to help his school district. Surely a pastor who preaches trust God, have faith in Jesus could consider something similar.

Run FBCJAX members.. Run.. There are other great churches in Jax where the pastor isn't living high on the hog!

Long Time FBC Jax Member said...

Anon ...
August 29, 2011 9:35 AM

Amen brother !! Great insight.

Anonymous said...

Our Pastor works hard and deserves everything he gets.

I have absolutely no problem with his huge home, his vacation home, and his $300,000 salary.

The Laborer is worthy of double honor.

I hope he gets a pay raise in January.

Our Church is stronger and more effective than ever because of his leadership.

Bro./Pastor Rod H. said...

I stated practically from the beginning of Mac's tenure based only on the initial things that he was doing when he arrived,that FBCJ was in trouble.

Mac is nothing more and nothing less than a hireling(John 10:11-13)and his habitual continual actions prove it!

Always and I mean "ALWAYS" watch how these Pastors handle the money[2Pet.2:14-16]!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:54

I think you are drunk on FBC koolaid. While I would agree that the Laborer is worthy of double honor.

For one the honor doesn't have to be monetary; it can be respect, it can be growth, it can be any non-monetary entity.

Secondly, what a slap in the face to the hard working member of FBC who's average salary is approx $40K for a pastor to continually ask them for money while he is out buying a condo?

In my book, there is something wrong with a pastor living so high on the hog that you can't even see the mud. A $900K house; for two people in the ministry? Just seems unnecessary, pretenous, and not how Jesus would have lived.

And I do remind you that Dr. Lindsay, who received double honor, many times in a non-monetary form, lived in a very average house, on a average street, without gates, golf courses, and other elite trappings.

Thirdly, honor for what? Since his arrival, the attendence has dropped significantly to the point that Wednesday night is now in the Ruth Lindays and the balcony is closed and the bottom floor is not even full. The choir has shrunk to virtually non existance and in the main auditorium renovations, they removed an entire row out of the choir loft.

Sunday night is pitful even with the pews removed for sunday school classes.

Fourth, more staff have resigned ( or pushed out) in his tenure than in all of the 30 + years Dr. Lindsay was there; highly saught after staff, who have moved on to bigger and better things. The number two guy is a man with no seminary education and not highly saught after; who replaced Smyrl who is well educated, a great preacher, and highly saught after.

So I do question your statement, "Our Church is stronger and more effective than ever because of his leadership."

Wow I must be blind!

Anonymous said...

You don't judge the strength of a church by just numbers Anno. 11:48!!!!

Yes, offerings have dropped, attendance has gone down, baptisms are down, staff are leaving, and the choir is smaller.......so???

We are still FBCJAX!!!!!

This Church is built on the Solid Rock, the Gates of Hell will NOT prevail against us!

No weapon formed against us shall prosper!!!

We are still FBCJAX!!!!!!

WishIhadknown said...

As someone aptly pointed out and I agreed with, it’s not double honor, its double pay. As I have pointed out before, for the Jacksonville area that is approximately $100,000 per year, including housing allowance. So, Anon, by your own standards, Brunson is over paid by $160,000+.

Anonymous said...

This Church is built on the Solid Rock, the Gates of Hell will NOT prevail against us!

It not about "this Church" its about Gods Church. That dose not mean FBCJax can be Gods Church.

Anonymous said...

"I stated practically from the beginning of Mac's tenure based only on the initial things that he was doing when he arrived,that FBCJ was in trouble."

I am just glad that they did not call you Bro. Rob if that is who you truly are. I WOULD RUN LIKE HELL AWAY FROM YOU.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:27.. I agree 100% and to my other friend that is drinking the FBC Koolaid.. its not about FBCJAX being strong..or.. "we are still FBCJAX" .. or no weapon formed against us shall prosper..

That is elitism... that is man focused.. What made FBCJAX strong WAS its ability to reach the lost PERIOD. Not cruises, not smaller memberships, not smaller auditoriums, not smaller choirs, but reaching the LOST.

You have forgotten why FBCJAX rose to the position it did, it was because the PASTOR had a singular focus, reaching the lost of JACKSONVILLE. PERIOD!!!!!!!!

When and if FBCJAX ever gets back to that, that is when honor will be bestowed on the pastor, who ever he is.

I challenge Brunson to sell his house, sell his condo, and reduce his salary, discontinue the cruises, turn down speaking engagements, and START walking the streets of Jacksonville reaching the lost.. return to a strong visitation program... return to a focus of being a local church here to minister to the lost of Jacksonville. I would dare say there are just as many lost people.

When the pastor is focused on Jesus and the lost then and only then will the church begin to grow and prosper.

Seeing that you confirmed all that I mentioned about the downward spiral of FBCJAX you would still give the Pastor a raise?

All I can say is wow and that is a great flavor of koolaid!

Anonymous said...

Is Brunson sick? Guest speaker last night said he is resting at home under doctors' orders. Also noticed in the church bulletin that most every evening in September there is a guest speaker. Just curious.

Anonymous said...

probably covert for a speaking engagement he had last night!

Anonymous said...

"All I can say is wow and that is a great flavor of koolaid!"

Now the TROLL is trying to argue both sides of the issue.

Ignore him.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully soon on this website we will see the headlines "Mac Brunson leaving First Baptist".

Anonymous said...

If Brunson is sick it certainly isn't because he has been overworked at First Baptist - writing personal books, taking tours, speaking engagments, gone all the time from his job here in Jacksonville. It's hard to believe we pay him and then the guest speakers to do what he was hired to do.

Anonymous said...

The ones we need to be griping about are the deacons who allow all this crap to go on When Dr. Vines wanted to have all of the master tapes of his preaching to take with him before he left the deacons told him NO because he was an employee of the church and the tapes belonged to the church. If they had the balls to tell Vines no then why can't they tell Brunson that he needs to be in the pulpit for so many times a year. At least Vines preached Sunday morning,night and Wed. nights when he became the Senior Pastor. Looks like the deacons have turned into a bunch of wimps.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know since Mac Brunson made Dr. Vine "Pastor Emeritus" does that mean that Dr, Vines is still receiving a salary from First Baptist?

Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine that there is a bigger fiasco than what you have in FBC Jax. Mac has it made and is fleecing you every day and noone (especially your deacons) have the courage to do anything about it. I find it hard to believe they actually stood up to Vines and told him no about anything.

On the other side of the coin though, IF (and that's highly doubtful) Mac ever leaves, you will never ever get a quality pastor again--and the main reason is this blog and all of you who say you are members of FBC Jax and blog on here. No pastor in their right mind would come into that hornets' nest.

Anonymous said...

"Given the financial blessings Brunson has, it is pretty laughable to hear Brunson compare himself to Job in his recent sermon series, as some sort of suffering servant of God being attacked by the devil." He never compared himself to Job...not once. Listen to his sermons.

You got nothing but spin.

Anonymous said...

Our Pastor is under stress because of this Blog.

I know for a fact that If a person on Staff is caught on this Blog, they will be unemployed immediately.

Please pray about stopping this Blog.

It is killing our Pastor and his family.

Do you want that on your conscience?

Anonymous said...

Good points, it is sad that the goal of this blog is to tear down Gods Man.

In saw him at O'Charlies recently and he looked like he was in some pain.

YOU Feel good about that?

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 7:42 - I have heard from reliable sources that Vines still receives income from FBC Jax, to the tune of about $60k or $70k a year.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon 9:33 - From 7/10 sermon...

"This has been a horrible week. It's been a hard week. I've spent the last two weeks in the first chapter of Job. I feel like the last two days I've lived the first chapter of Job."

WishIhadknown said...

If your Pastor is under stress then he should go along with some of his own sermons and “turn it over to God.” I would suggest some of Wade Burlison’s sermons too. The recent ones on liberty are excellent!

Anonymous said...

More evidence that churches and the government are -- pardon the expression -- in bed together.

This tells us where the churches' loyalties really lie.

Hold on, I hear a megachurch pastor getting ready to preach on how to trust God and not the government.

Anonymous said...

WD.. great job in pointing out that Brunson has compared himself to Job.. not only in his sermons but also on his tweets.

If he were the Pastor he is suppose to be and care and lead the flock of FBCJAX and care for the lost of Jax, then he would not have these issues.

BUT he doesn't! Actions speak louder than words.

Anonymous said...

Stupid thesis = stupid article. No relevance at all. It just demonstrates your seething hatred for Mac. Sad.. There must be more to life than trying to tear down God's men.

Sharon said...

Re stress of the mega-church pastor: Isn't that like any other CEO of a large business? You get the power, prestige, lots of money, lots of perks, travel, status. But along with that come problems to deal with, like unions, expenses, unhappy employees, critics, etc.

But I doubt CEO's in the business world try to portray themselves as poor victims being picked on. Who could respect them if they did? If they determine that the position is not worth the stress that goes along with it, they resign or retire. They have money and skills-they can leave if they want to.

Also this whole idea from the Bible of "man of God" is the basic problem. If these men can get people to really believe that they are "men of God" they truly do get all kinds of perks, status, having people give them all kinds of things, all kinds of discounts, etc. There's something very sickening about it. Why? Because they supposedly are in love with Jesus, who spoke of suffering, taking up your cross daily, etc. Their lives show that they have no intention of doing such in real, actual life. The disconnect of real life and their leader (Jesus) is unreal. I have much more respect for that school superintendent who's giving up a lot of his salary for a cause he believes in.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:17 so bitter.. I don't think anyone has hatred for Dr. Brunson, just looking for accountibility, performance goals, etc. If he is paid like a CEO, then he should be held to the same standards.

Low numbers, unmet budget, oppulent spending, always on vacation.. wheres the accountability?

Sounds like another AIG situation in the SBC.

Anonymous said...

If Mac Brunson would live the life he preaches from the pulpit I doubt he would be having all these problems.

Anonymous said...

From the IRS Agent...cont'd...

One last thing that may be pertinent:

If the pastor has not opted out of social security and medicare taxes, they are responsible for SECA taxes on the housing allowance. If they have opted out of social security and medicare, they are not required to pay SECA on the housing allowance.

Concerning the opt-out...

Although it is easy to opt out, it is true that most pastors could not with integrity opt out, although many of them do. It's funny, that is one of the questions I ask the pastor at membership classes. If they opt out, I view their integrity as compromised and I opt out of joining the church. I currently attend an SBC church of 700, and the pastor pays FICA/SECA.

* To see the language of the opt out, "Statement" pastors have to sign: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4361.pdf