Sam Brunson (Loyola-Chicago) presented God and the IRS: Accommodating Religious Practice in the Tax Law (Cambridge University Press 2018) yesterday at UC-Irvine as part of its Tax Policy Colloquium Series:
Seventy-five percent of Americans claim religious affiliation, which can impact their taxpaying responsibilities. In this illuminating book, Samuel D. Brunson describes the many problems and breakdowns that can occur when tax meets religion in the United States, and shows how the US government has too often responded to these issues in an unprincipled, ad hoc manner. God and the IRSoffers a better framework to understand tax and religion. It should be read by scholars of religion and the law, policymakers, and individuals interested in understanding the implications of taxation on their religious practices.
God and the IRS proceeds from the assumption that tax law is inherently interesting and that its attempts to accommodate religious practices are profoundly important. To see what a free society truly values, we must understand how it navigates the numerous tensions between private belief and public obligation. Whether he is talking about Muslim mortgages, Mormon missionaries, or Methodist parsonages, Samuel D. Brunson writes with patience, humor, and clarity. One need not be an attorney or a tax expert to profit from this book, just an engaged and intellectually curious citizen.
Michael Austin, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Evansville, Indiana
When and how should the tax system accommodate religious practice? Samuel D. Brunson does a great job tackling this important but difficult topic, addressing some of the most common ways in which conflicts arise and offering a framework for deciding future cases. This book should appeal to anyone interested in tax law, religion, or both.
Adam Chodorow, Arizona State University
Samuel D. Brunson's comprehensive and informative new book pulls together a large quantity of historical, legal, and other resources that illustrate how United States tax law accommodates religious practice. Brunson develops a much-needed framework for evaluating tax accommodation of religious practice. This book is an invaluable resource for scholars working at the intersection of tax law and religion.
Shuyi Oei, Boston College Law School
Drawing on a superb mastery of tax law and the historical nuances of many religious traditions, Samuel D. Brunson compellingly argues for a re-examination of American policies at the points where religion and taxation collide. His nuanced and learned proposal for reform should be studied by policy makers, political scientists, sociologists, legal scholars, historians of religion, and anyone concerned about the relationship between money, government, and religious practice in the American context.
Stephen C. Taysom, Cleveland State University