Bankrupt Crystal Cathedral Paid CFO $132K Home Fee

Fred Southard dodged taxes with housing 'allowance'

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 18, 2010 3:18 AM CST

(Newser) – A US trustee and a creditors committee are challenging Crystal Cathedral's spending habits—including a six-figure housing allowance for the church CFO, who owns a $2.3 million home, as well as mystery payments to officials, according to documents filed with the court. Last year, the megachurch paid Fred Southard $132,000 of his $144,000 compensation in the form of a housing allowance, which allowed him to dodge income taxes, reports the Los Angeles Times. He paid only $15 in taxes for 2009, according to documents.

The cathedral wants to pay him a $146,000 allowance this year as the church's case goes through bankruptcy court. "There is no justification whatsoever for a housing allowance of this amount," said the trustee in a challenge filed in court documents. The trustee and creditors are also challenging hefty salaries to two of founder Robert Schuller's relatives who appear to be doing the same job. The church employs more than a dozen of Schuller's relatives and in-laws. Creditors, meanwhile, are owed up to $100 million. Click here for more.

Robert H. Schuller leads a prayer at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.
Robert H. Schuller leads a prayer at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.   (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Ana Venegas)
The Crystal Cathedral owes some $100 million to creditors, but wants to continue paying a six-figure housing fee to its founder-pastor.
The Crystal Cathedral owes some $100 million to creditors, but wants to continue paying a six-figure housing fee to its founder-pastor.   (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Ana Venegas)
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