Minister Housing Allowance Update

by Kenneth Hoffman in

Driscoll was an ordained minister and worked for Phil Driscoll Ministries, Inc.  The ministry paid Driscoll a housing allowance to maintain both his principal residence and his lake house.  The IRS denied the housing allowance allocable to the second house and issued a notice of deficiency with regards to the amounts that the IRS determined was improperly excluded from Driscoll’s income. 

Driscoll petitioned the Tax Court, which held that Driscoll could exclude from income amounts used to provide his second home.  The Tax Court reasoned that singular terms in the Code also include their plural forms, and, therefore, the language in section 107 of the Code referring to “a home” could include more than one home. 

The 11th Circuit held that the “singular-to-plural” provision should only apply if the context of section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code supports such an application.  The 11th Circuit looked at the definitions of the word “home” and concluded that the word “has decidedly singular connotations.”  In support of the court’s decision, the legislative history of section 107(2) was examined and words such as “the” or “a” always preceded the word “home”; therefore, the court held that “home” was always intended to mean one home.

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