Private Schools News
The National Association of Independent Schools says that although few of its member schools are likely to be affected, it is concerned about the "principle" involved in an attempt by the Internal Revenue Service to tax the "fair-rental value" of housing provided by four private colleges to their faculty members.
In the wake of a tax audit covering the early-to-mid 1970's, the irs notifed the New England colleges earlier this year that they had failed to withhold tax from faculty members' salaries for the value of housing the faculty members received from the colleges.
Many private boarding schools--like a number of colleges and universities--supply low-cost housing to their faculty members. But, by and large, according to A. Richard Belding, director of business services for the school association, when employees of independent schools receive such benefits, they are required to live in the on-campus or near-campus housing because it is part of their job to supervise students.
Under irs rules, the value of housing is not taxable income when such a living arrangement is a condition of employment, is on the premises of the employer, and is nec-essary to perform a job properly.
But, Mr. Belding added, the school association is concerned that "one reading of the tax law is at odds with a long-standing educational policy."
The four institutions involved--Amherst, Smith, and Wellesley Colleges and Wesleyan University--argue that proximity of their faculty members to students is essential to the educational process.
They also take issue with the legality of the irs action under various court rulings and a Congressional moratorium barring new irs efforts to tax fringe benefits. A spokesman for one of the colleges also said that its faculty members rented the housing "at cost" and that the institution does not agree with irs's assessment of "fair rental value."
A bill that would exempt such housing arrangements in educational institutions from taxation has been introduced in the House of Representatives and is expected to be introduced in the Senate.
The independent-schools association supports the legislation "on educational principle," Mr. Belding said.
The Rev. Everett Sileven is once again locked up, and supporters are mounting a new political and legal battle to free him from jail and his small Fundamentalist school in Louisville, Neb., from control by the state department of education.
Mr. Sileven has been battling the state since 1978 over the certification of the Faith Christian School and its teachers.
More than two years ago, following state supreme court and local district court rulings, Mr. Sileven was ordered to comply with state department of education certification requirements.
Following legal battles, including a failed attempt by Mr. Sileven to have his case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, he was jailed for 13 days last spring for failing to obey a court order to close the school, but he was released after the school was shut down.
Mr. Sileven later reopened the school and was ordered by the court to return to jail to complete his original four-month sentence. When he did not voluntarily return, Mr. Sileven was arrested on Sept. 3.
Mr. Sileven says that he believes the state has no right to regulate his school because it is part of the church. The Christian Law Association (cla), which has attempted to secure Mr. Sileven's release without success to date, plans to file suit charging that the state has violated the civil rights of the school's parents by ordering the closure, according to the association.