Wisconsin Supreme Court: Religious Charities Are Not Tax Exempt

On Thursday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a ruling that the religious motivation of a group does not exempt it from paying into unemployment insurance:

In a 4-3 opinion issued Thursday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a Wisconsin Catholic Charities organization and four nonprofits affiliated with the agency can’t bow out of the Wisconsin unemployment insurance system on religious grounds.

The 50-page opinion rejects the argument made by Catholic Charities Bureau Inc. (CCB) for the Superior Diocese of the Catholic Church that the charity and its subsidiary nonprofits provide social services as a fundamentally religious act.

That would make their employees exempt from coverage under the Wisconsin unemployment compensation law, CCB asserted.

“An objective examination of the actual activities of CCB and the sub-entities reveals that their activities are secular in nature,” wrote Justice Ann Walsh Bradley for the four-member majority, all from the Court’s liberal wing. That evaluation, she added, results from “a neutral and secular inquiry based on objective criteria.”

In other words, they might say that they were inspired to provide social services from their religious beliefs, but the services they are actually providing is strictly secular.

In a previous life, my day job was a social worker for the local county government. We did the same work as an employee from a place like Catholic Charoties or a similiar agencies. However, I did it simply because it was the right thing to do, not because of any religious beliefs.

And this ruling could have wide impacts in other areas, such as religious hospitals, where layoffs happen with alarming frequency, and dare we hope, some private schools.

Given that there was a large number of groups filing briefs from different religions, as well as other groups such as Freedom From Religion, the case will be most assuredly appealed to the federal level and to SCOTUS. Given the make up of that body and their likelihood to apply their own theocracy and ideology to cases over the actual law or constitution, I don’t have much hope for the longevity of the ruling, but one can always hope.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top