Unemployment tax & religious organization
VOLOKH at LAW.UCLA.EDU
Fri Oct 10 15:05:49 PDT 1997
Rojas v. Fitch, 1997 WL 613060 (1st Cir. Oct. 9) upholds the
Federal Unemployment Tax Act, 26 USC 3301, and an analogous Rhode
Island unemployment tax statute, against an Estab Cl challenge to its
The federal statute apparently exempts:
- organizations operated primarily for religious purposes and
operated by a church;
- nonprofit organizations with fewer than four regular
- elected state employees;
- employees at certain rehabilitation facilities;
- prison inmates.
The Rhode Island statute apparently also exempts certain insurance
and real estate brokers, and golf caddies.
The court concluded that this statute was justified by the
interest in "excluding from coverage a variety of workers whose
employment patterns are irregular or whose wages are not easily
accountable," and "the current exemption for religious employment . .
. rests within the context of a variety of other exemptions, all of
which appear to share a common secular purpose. Efficient
administration of the unemployment compensation system is
particularly enhanced through the exemptions for religion because it
eliminates the need for the government to review employment decisions
made on the basis of religious rationales. . . .
"Including religious institutions within a set of unemployment
tax exemption recipients -- selected on the basis of reducing
difficulties in administering an unemployment insurance program --
reflects less of a desire to sponsor religion than the direct
property tax exemptions upheld in Walz."
Still, it seems to me that the statute covers far fewer secular
institutions than does the Walz statute; most obviously, nonreligious
nonprofit organizations, no matter how charitable or civically
minded, are excluded. Is anyone else troubled by this?
"George promised to be good; Eugene Volokh
but it is easy for little monkeys UCLA Law School
to forget." 405 Hilgard Ave.
Complete Adventures of Curious George p.14 L.A., CA 90095
More information about the Religionlaw