Government, Religious Leaders Draft Tax Guidelines

Article excerpt

Now that Revenue Canada has decided not to appeal a court decision on the clergy housing deduction, government officials are working with religious leaders to develop new guidelines. They should be complete this fall.

The guidelines are expected to incorporate principles laid out in a court decision in February by Judge D.G.H. Bowman, who ruled in favour of 38 taxpayers and against eight who were denied the clergy housing deduction by Revenue Canada. (The decision was reported in the May issue of the Journal.)

The Canadian Council of Christian Charities went to bat for the taxpayers, appealing the decisions to tax court.

The council decided not to appeal the eight denials and in May, Revenue Canada announced it also would not appeal the rulings.

Members of the council are now "intimately involved" in developing the new guidelines, said executive director Frank Luellau, who has seen several drafts.

"We have been very encouraged by the process. The reason I'm pleased is I see that our hard-fought and expensive court battle was not for nothing."

Actual wording from the court decision is going in there, he said. "It cost us too much, but at least we are getting something of what we went out to buy." Financial records indicate the council spent $1.5 million this fiscal year, ending April 30, 1999, and $520,000 last year on legal fees related to clergy housing.

But Revenue Canada will have to pay some of that. …