Tax Implementation Delay

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 called for many changes in tax law, tax reporting, and laws surrounding charitable deductions, among other things. Two such changes will significantly affect churches and affiliated religious organizations. These changes can be found in Section 512(a) paragraphs (6) and (7).

These changes require new methods of calculation for tax reporting and payment for income earned through unrelated trades or business for churches and affiliated organizations and declare certain amounts paid by tax-exempt organizations to be taxable income (e.g., for a parking facility used in connection with qualified parking, for a qualified transportation fringe benefit, gym memberships, etc.).

These changes have not yet been clearly defined and the reporting method for them is currently unknown. A delay in implementation of changes will allow churches and religious institutions time to ensure they are abiding by the new law and time to train treasurers, volunteers, and stewardship teams in appropriate new practices. An implementation delay will also allow the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service time to outline clearly the definition of these new requirements and create the reporting structures necessary for tax-exempt organizations to comply with the law.

The Christian Church Foundation, Disciples Church Extension Fund, and Pension Fund of the Christian Church each represent the financial interests of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), managing over $4B in assets. As advocates for the financial wellbeing of all of our churches and affiliated organizations such as colleges and universities, nursing homes, children’s homes, and other ministries, we respectfully add our voices to those of organizations, including Church Alliance, the American Institute of CPAs, and the National Council of Nonprofits, among others, that have requested a delay in implementation of changes relating to Sections 512(a)(6) and (7) of the Internal Revenue Code that were enacted as part of the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”; Public Law No. 115-97).

We believe it is in the best interest of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and other churches and religious organizations to delay the implementation of these new laws until Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have accurately defined the measure of the law and created means to adhere to these new regulations or repeal this section of the law due to the undue burden this will place upon volunteer-based organizations.

If you would like to add your voice along with ours, please click here and fill out the corresponding form.

To read a full account of Sections 512(a)(6) and (7) please click here.

To read the full statement by Church Alliance please click here

To view a full list of the Supporting Signers please visit the Pension Fund website here


Remembering Harry Cotabish: A Consummate Christian Gentleman

by W. Darwin Collins

A few years ago, the Rev. Janet Hellner-Burris met with the Rev. Dr. Dwight French, the late Pennsylvania regional minister. As they talked about their church communities, Dr. French remembered Harry Cotabish as “a consummate Christian gentleman.”

Rev. Hellner-Burris served with Harry for years as board chair, elder, trustee and choir member at Wilkinsburg Christian Church. She couldn’t agree more with Dr. French’s kind words.


Sharing his talents with the church

I was introduced to Harry as I transitioned to regional ministry following Dr. French. Harry served the region as the chair of the regional new church start in Cranberry Township, PA. The church start required many hours and detailed plans, and I quickly learned to appreciate Harry’s organizational and planning skills. An engineer by profession, Harry brought the skills from his career to help the church. More importantly, what Harry brought to his service in the congregation and region was a devotion to giving his best for Christ’s ministry. Through his time, skills and financial resources, Harry always gave his very best.

Harry’s commitment to the church did not only span one congregation. Prior to his final years at the Wilkinsburg church, he participated at East End Christian Church. During the winter months of his retirement, he and his beloved wife, Gladys, attended First Christian Church of Ft. Myers, FL. His commitment to God and the church could not be confined to a single location. Wherever Harry lived, he gave of himself.

Following his death in 2016, Harry’s legacy would not be diminished. Rev. Hellner-Burris spoke of his legacy: “His attention to detail, combined with his great love of the church led him to be one of the wise voices we always listened to as we navigated the choppy waters of congregational transformation. In addition, Harry was a role model for me in growing old gracefully…his legacy lives on at our church and in the heart of one honored to be his pastor.”


Planning for generosity in death

Although it’s easy to remember Harry’s life and service, Harry and Gladys made careful plans to distribute their remaining assets after their deaths. The church and its ministries were beneficiaries of their generosity. As in their lives, so too in death!

The congregations Harry served in Wilkinsburg, Ft. Myers and the Pennsylvania region received proceeds from the Cotabish estate, extending the couple’s love for these ministries well into the future. Through the Christian Church Foundation, the Christian Church in Pennsylvania created the Harry N. and Gladys N. Cotabish New Church Establishment Fund to encourage continued interest in planting new churches.

Harry Cotabish was a consummate gentleman indeed, and a true ‘saint’ of the church.


Leave a legacy of faithful generosity

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