Cars are seen in the parking lot at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington Nov. 14. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairmen of two U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees welcomed a new explanation from the Treasury Department that relaxed rules on the payment of taxes by churches and nonprofits that offer employee parking.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said the revisions, which will allow many nonprofit employers to retroactively reduce nondeductible parking expenses, were needed.

In a Dec. 11 statement, the prelates also called for the full repeal of a provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would tax houses of worship and other nonprofits for parking and transit benefits they provide to their employees.

The USCCB joined other faith-based organizations in November in urging the repeal of what became known as the “parking lot tax.”

In announcing the guidance Dec. 10, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the agency was “sensitive to the concerns of the tax-exempt community” and hoped that the clarification “can significantly limit the impact on nonprofit groups.”

“Treasury is offering tax-exempt organizations a roadmap for navigating their responsibilities. The guidance issued today aims to provide flexibility while minimizing the burden on non-profit groups that provide employee parking,” the statement said.

The new guidance explains that nonprofits can rely on any reasonable method to determine parking costs in calculating this year’s tax or use a method prescribed by the government. In addition, any nonprofits that failed to pay estimated taxes under the provision to date in 2018 will not have to pay penalties.

The two bishops said that they still hold concerns that even with the guidance, the “unjust” tax provision remains a concern because houses of worship and nonprofits still will be required “to file tax returns for the first time in our nation’s history and will impose a new tax burden” on them.

An earlier letter on the issue sent to House and Senate leaders by USCCB leaders and the heads of other faith-based organizations noted that “for good reasons grounded in the First Amendment, houses of worship are not required to file tax returns each year.