Amending Federal Rules to Protect Schools and Synagogues against Unfair Taxes
The recent overhaul of the federal tax code included new provisions creating first-time tax bills for Jewish day schools, synagogues, and other nonprofit organizations nationwide. The new levies on benefits such as providing employee parking and transportation subsidies would have cost smaller synagogues several thousand dollars each, and day schools tens of thousands of dollars apiece. The OU Advocacy Center led a coalition of faith and other nonprofit groups to fight this unprecedented burden, prompting the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS to remove the new tax. The OU Advocacy Center is working with its allies in Congress to pursue a full repeal of the tax.
Winning Court Ruling to Preserve Economic Well-Being of Rabbis, Other Clergy
For decades, synagogues across the country have relied on a Federal “parsonage” allowance to help recruit and compensate rabbis and other clergy. A Federal court challenge to the constitutionality of this housing allowance threatened this vital exemption, potentially forcing many synagogues to shut down. The OU Advocacy Center joined with other religious organizations in filing a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to defend the existing tax exemption; the court ruled in favor of maintaining the allowance, helping to protect the economic well-being of rabbis and other clergy nationwide.
OU leaders present an award of appreciation to U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) for his partnership with the OU on passing legislation last year to ensure disaster-damaged houses of worship are eligible to receive federal aid from FEMA. From left: OU President Mark (Moishe) Bane, Senator Blunt, OU Advocacy Center Executive Director Nathan Diament, and OU Advocacy Center Chairman Jerry Wolasky.