The Law: Bless Us, O Lord, and These, Thy Loopholes

Ever since last year, when the Rev. Kirby Hensley defeated the IRS in court, the tax men have had reason to worry. Thanks to his self-created church, Hensley got back $13,000 when he won a dispute over his 1969 federal income taxes. With a bit of determination and effort —to say nothing of prayer—other middle-income taxpayers can wind up owing little or no tax if they set themselves up, like Hensley, as church pastors.

The initial move is to be ordained and get a church charter—a relatively easy gambit. Hensley's Universal Life Church in Modesto,...

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