76 T.C. 468 (1981), 15447-79| McGahen v. C.I.R.

Docket Nº:15447-79, 4435-80.
Citation:76 T.C. 468
Opinion Judge:DAWSON, Judge :
Attorney:Carl V. McGahen, pro se. Edward J. Laubach, Jr ., for the respondent.
Case Date:March 26, 1981
Court:United States Tax Court

Page 468

76 T.C. 468 (1981)




Nos. 15447-79, 4435-80.

United States Tax Court

March 26, 1981

Petitioner was ordained a minister and chartered as a " church personally," Chapter 7807, by the Basic Bible Church of America. He executed a vow of poverty whereby he purportedly transferred all his assets, including his wages, to Chapter 7807. He was instructed by an official of the Basic Bible Church of America to continue his work as a boilermaker. He deposited all his salary into a checking account in the name of Chapter 7807 upon which he and his wife, a trustee of Chapter 7807, could draw. These funds were used to pay his personal, living, and family expenses. Held :

1. Petitioner earned his salary in his individual capacity and not as an agent of a religious order, and therefore he must include his salary in his gross income.

2. Petitioner is not entitled to a charitable contribution deduction under sec. 170(c), I.R.C. 1954.

3. Petitioner is liable for the addition to tax under sec. 6653(a).

Page 469

Carl V. McGahen, pro se.

Edward J. Laubach, Jr ., for the respondent.

DAWSON, Judge :

In these consolidated cases, respondent determined the following deficiencies in petitioner's Federal income taxes and additions to tax:

Addition to tax
Docket No. Year Deficiency sec. 6653(a) 1
15447-79 1977 $8,780.10 $439.01
4435-80 1978 8,760.32 438.02
The issues presented for decision are: (1) Whether certain amounts earned by petitioner in 1977 and 1978 are excludable from his gross income because he was a member of a religious order which deemed him to be a " church personally" and which required him to take a vow of poverty and turn over the salary earned in his individual capacity to himself in his church capacity, which church then paid his personal, living, and family expenses. (2) Whether petitioner is entitled to a charitable deduction under section 170(c) for certain amounts put in the name of Chapter 7807 of the Basic Bible Church. (3) Whether petitioner is liable for the additions to tax under section 6653(a) for the taxable years 1977 and 1978. FINDINGS OF FACT None of the facts have been stipulated. The cases were tried in Pittsburgh, Pa., on September 16, 1980, at which time testimony was taken and exhibits were received in evidence. Carl V. McGahen (petitioner) resided in Plumville, Pa., when Page 470 he filed his petitions herein. During the taxable year 1977, various companies employed petitioner as a boilermaker-welder and paid him a total of $29,520.19. He included this amount on his Federal income tax return for 1977 under the item " Wages, salaries, tips and other employee compensation," but later listed the same amount in the space provided for itemized charitable deductions (Form 1040, Schedule A). He then subtracted this figure from his total wages, thus reducing his taxable income shown on the return and tax liability to zero. He stated on the return that the entire income was turned over to the Order of Almighty God, A Religious Order. The same sequence of events occurred for the taxable year 1978 except that the income amount in dispute is $27,880.64. Respondent examined petitioner's 1977 and 1978 income tax returns and determined the deficiencies and additions to tax specified above. On May 1, 1977, petitioner was ordained a minister, received the degree of doctor of divinty, and was chartered as a subsidiary or auxiliary church of the Basic Bible Church of America.[2] On the same day, he executed a set of bylaws for the Page 471 Order of Almighty God, Chapter 7807 of the Basic Bible Church of America (Chapter 7807). These bylaws[3] provide that petitioner Page 472 is the head of Chapter 7807 and that his wife and brother are the trustees. The trustees have no vote in Chapter 7807 and act only in an advisory capacity. Although the head of Chapter 7807 must take a vow of poverty, he retains the power to hold, control, and dispense the funds and property of the chapter. On May 2, 1971, petitioner executed a notarized vow of poverty which states in part: Therefore, I Rev. Carl V. McGahen of the City of Plumville, County of Indiana State of Pennsylvania hereby make an irrevocable gift of all my possessions, real, personal, choses in action and otherwise and all my income whatsoever, regardless of the form of the income, to the Church, and/or, Order herein named, thus divesting myself of all my possessions and income whatsoever to be used for Religious purposes to support the basic Biblical Law of the Church or Order hereinafter named. All such possessions and Income in any, hereinafter being the property of the said Church or Order regardless of whether or not they continue to appear in my personal name. I further understand that outside employment renumeration [sic] (when directed by the Church or Order) is not personal income, but rather income by gift from the begining [sic] to the Church or Order and not of the individual or undersigned. The Church or Order designated to receive said Income and possessions is a religious Order of the Basic Bible Church of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota, designated as THE ORDER OF ALMIGHTY GOD: CHAPTER NO. 7807. Page 473 Other than the above signed vow of poverty, petitioner made no legal transfer of the deed to his home[4] or the title of his motor vehicles to Chapter 7807. On or about this same time, petitioner received a letter from Jerome Daly, Archbishop of the Basic Bible Church of America, which stated, in part: 3. This Church and Order is founded on the beliefs and teachings contained in the Holy Bible and other sacred scripture, The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the U.S. and upon the principle that a man owns his own life and is bound by the sacred natural Law Golden Rule, " DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU." You are directed and required, as a part of the duties of this Order, to become employed in gainful [sic] employment, and to use the renumeration [sic] gained therefrom and your occupation as a Boilermaker Welder__ whereever [[[sic] assigned by the Union., as a vehicle and instrument to carry out and put into effect the principles of the Church and Order. In order to persuade and encourage other people to practice and apply this Church's Creed and philosophy and teachings to their social, private and business activities and also to the mental and spiritual sector of their lives you are to constantly set a good example by the practice of these principles and creed yourself. 4. You are directed and required to become employed and to keep employment and productive work in order to earn income to spend and use to support yourself, your family and other church members and workers and you are to use your job and employment as a vehicle to carry out the purposes of this Church and Order. 5. You are directed to use the income of the Order and Church as you see fit and reasonable to carry out the purposes of the Order. 6. You are at all times, on and off the job and work, to carry out the duties of an evangelist and on a 24 hour basis you are to direct and promote the principles and creed of this Church and Order. Both before and after his ordination petitioner worked as a boilermaker-welder for various corporations.[5] His wife, who filed separately, worked as a waitress. After petitioner's ordination, they put their joint earnings in a checking account in the name of the Basic Bible Church of America, Chapter 7807, from which they could withdraw funds. With the creation of this church account, petitioner and his wife abandoned their then-existing joint personal checking account and thereafter used the Page 474 church account for the same purposes as their prior joint checking account. Some of his wife's earnings were used to buy groceries for the family; however, petitioner did not know how much she earned in 1977 and 1978, nor the extent of her financial contributions to household expenses. During 1977 and 1978, petitioner and his wife used the funds in the Chapter 7807 checking account to support their children, to pay mortgage installments on the house in which they lived, his union dues, certain taxes, repair bills, gasoline, and insurance premiums for his motor vehicles. He kept no records of how much was withdrawn from the checking account but admitted that most of the $29,520.19 earned in 1977 and the $27,880.64 earned in 1978 was consumed. Petitioner made approximately 20 trips to Basic Bible College in Beaver, Pa. over 2 years to attend classes on the fundamentals of his religion. Each trip lasted 1 or 2 days. After his ordination, petitioner preached and had a Sunday school. He kept no list of people who attended Chapter 7807. Petitioner could remember only two individuals who attended the Chapter 7807 meetings, and they were other Basic Bible Church ministers. He did try to solicit new members where he was employed but did not advertise services in the local newspaper, nor did he list Chapter 7807 in the local telephone directory. He performed no baptisms, confirmations, or funeral services. Jerome Daly, as archbishop and president of the Basic Bible Church of America, ordained petitioner into the Basic Bible Church, and established him as a subsidiary or auxiliary church, Chapter 7807 of the parent church. Religious worship consisted of meditation, preaching on the job, passing out church pamphlets and sacraments, and setting a good example for fellow employees. Mr. Daly explained that the fundamental creeds of the...

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