In the United States, (as far as the federal government is concerned) churches and church based ministries are automatically tax exempt. According to federal statutes (and the IRS) they do not have to incorporate, register, or report their activities to the federal government.  Donations to churches and church based ministries are fully tax deductible whether they have chosen to  incorporate or register under  501(c)(3) or not. This is not the case for the vast majority of non profit organizations.  This may or may not be the case in individual states. The state of Arizona in which this ministry is based does have a registration statute for churches and church based ministries. This ministry is therefore registered with the office of the Secretary of the State of Arizona.

The hyperlinks will take you to the IRS websites publications as listed. The addresses for these IRS hyperlinks change. If you find the link does not go to the desired page simply type sentence or publication number in you browser and look it up yourself.

       IRS Publication 557 Under page 25: Some organizations are not required to file Form 1023. (Form 1023 is the form you register with) These include: Churches, interchurch organizations of local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group.
These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3)
(page 31) under the heading Religious Organizations...Churches states: Churches. Although a church, its integrated auxiliaries, or a convention or association of churches is not required to file Form 1023 to be exempt from federal income tax or to receive tax deductible contributions, the organization may find it advantages to obtain recognition of exemption…..
Convention or association of churches: An organization although it is a convention or association of churches will not fail to qualify as a church meerly because the membership of the organization includes individuals as well as churches or because the individuals have voting rights in the organizations.
Special rule. Men’s and women’s organizations, seminaries, mission societies, and youth groups that satisfy (1) and (2) shown earlier are integrated auxiliaries of a church even if they are not internally supported.
     Notice the such as in that qualification. Such as means these are examples not limitations. Teaching ministries have always been part of churches and groups of churches functions. In fact, Biblically speaking they are one of the main functions.  

      Eligible Donees Generally Not Listed in Publication 78:  Some entities eligible to receive tax deductible charitable contributions may not be listed in Publication 78: Churches and certain affiliated organizations: Publication 78 is based on information received in applications seeking recognition of exemption under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). 1. Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, conventions or associations of churches, and 2. public charities whose annual gross receipts are normally not more than $5,000 may be treated as tax-exempt without filing an application.

     Publication 78 is the IRS’s list of registered entities. The reason you may not see churches in there is because they are exempt from registering. They can receive tax deductible donations without registering.

      IRS Publication 526  Under: Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions; it states: You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. Most organizations, other than churches and governments, must apply to the IRS to become a qualified organization.  IRS Form 1023 is the application for tax exempt recognition by the IRS under 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code.  

     Public Charity Exemption Application: To be exempt under section 501(c)(3), an organization must file an application for recognition of exemption with the IRS. The law provides limited exceptions to the filing requirement. Exceptions to Application Requirement: 1. Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches; and 2. An organization that is not a private foundation and the gross receipts of which in each taxable year are normally not more than $5,000.

      In the early part of the 20th century when congress passed the laws for our current income tax. Shortly afterwards they decided that personnel income taxes may affect the ability of people to donate money to all of the institutions that the nation is dependent upon for its prosperity, and even its long term survival. They crafted laws and regulations that made these institutions tax exempt and donations to them tax deductible.  Passing laws so that charitable and educational organizations (among others) could register with the federal government and apply for exemption and tax deductible status was easy enough. I am assuming though that Churches presented that congress with a unique problem because of the 1st amendment. The problem can be explained by a brief history of the founding era of the nation.
     The various state constitutions (and writings of the founders of the nation,) were explicit in their understanding of the needs of their states for Christian based virtue. Some states even went as far requiring all towns to build a church and hire a preacher of their choice in their constitutions.  Please follow this link to see these constitutions. Almost all of the Constitutions of the founding era contained some similar language and various requirements along those lines. None of them established a particular Christian denomination as their official state church. Four of them directly established general Christianity as the official state religion, (not in a European way though.) All of them in their constitutions explicitly acknowledged general Christianity as the religion of the people and by extension, the religion of the states. When the States decided to unify as one nation under a mutually agreed upon constitution as the basis for governing it. They determined the wording of the document was not strong enough to prevent a central government from naturally acquiring more and more power, and then abusing the God given rights of the people and their states. Thus a bill of the rights of the people and their States, that contained explicate restrictions for the new federal government was agreed upon. The 1st one of these rights and restrictions amendments says this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The European model of state suppression of God given rights always included an official state religion. This religion was an instrument of the state and not visa versa. Its aim was to suppress the Christianity of the Bible which quite naturally produces in its followers a tendency favoring republican forms of representative government. (Hardly in the interests of kings and dictators.) The founders of the nation had just finished a war with this, and had a healthy fear of a strong central government eventually adopting the same methods. Therefore they placed a specific restriction upon it to neither establish an official federal religion, nor prohibit the people or the states from exercising their religion, (which was explicitly general Christianity.) The other items in the first amendment: Speech, the press, peaceably assembling, and involvement in government are normal functions of Biblical religion as well as secular pursuits. 
     This is why I assume that the congress that wrote these laws and the subsequent ones that added to them explicitly exempted churches and church based ministries from these laws. If Congress gave the IRS the power to grant some churches and their ministries official recognition or federal approval,  then by default it would have the power to not recognize or withhold federal approval from others. Perhaps in a perfect world this would work, but it is not a perfect world and congress apparently understood this. To totally exclude churches and church based ministries from these tax exemptions and donor tax deductions and just give them to organizations they were constitutionally able to regulate wouldn't work.  The churches and church based ministries do the vast majority of the labor, and accomplish the vast majority of the things these laws seek to promote. The nation is dependent on their work, our form of government is not suited for an immoral and ignorant citizenry. So it looks as if the only way to constitutionally be able to do this was to just exempt churches and their ministries from the regulatory requirements all together. Thereby automatically making peoples donations to them tax deducible and the churches and church based ministries tax and regulatory exempt. To do otherwise, either by including them in the regulatory process or excluding them from the exemption, tax deductibility altogether, would be a violation of the most basic rights of the people and the states. Some of the IRS publications allude to the Constitution in its interpretations of the statutory laws passed by congress as to the reason churches and church based ministries cannot be regulated, and still enjoy tax exemption and the ability of donors to deduct their gifts from their income taxes.  
     Since it is abundantly clear that there is no law that requires a church or church based ministry to seek federal recognition of its standing to be tax exempt and to receive tax deductible donations.  Furthermore, that the IRS interprets the law that way itself. Daniel Martinovich Ministries of which Wordservice.org is a part of has chosen to not incorporate nor to seek that recognition. This does not mean that we haven't pledged itself to the highest standards possible for the ministry; to "go the extra mile." We will provide yearly public reports (on the internet) of all financial activities including compensation, and the recipients of that compensation.  When the size and scope of the ministries warrant, audited reports by independent auditors will be provided. As the ministry grows church oversight will grow with it. Of course receipts will be  provided for tax deductible purposes. We will fully comply with the federal and state laws concerning individuals income as they apply to churches. 
     It is understood that perhaps some people may fear to, or may not support this ministry because of its refusal to seek IRS approval for its status. (Even though the IRS acknowledges that there is no need to seek their approval for it.)  I guess that is the price that has to be paid to keep just a little bit more of that freedom accorded to us by our creator.  We all have to do what God tells us to do in faith.  Just because it has recently become a  cultural norm for churches and their ministries to seek something from the government that the government does not require them to have. That does not mean there is anything wrong or radical in breaking with a cultural norm. In fact in this case it could even be looked on as virtuous and the right thing to do. This is especially true in light of the fact that this is not an issue with the Federal government or IRS. They are not out to  coerce churches and church based ministries to seek their official recognition for tax exempt and tax deductible status that they already have.  The pressure to do this is coming from some where else, as such, the reader can decide where it is coming from themselves. 

© Daniel Martinovich 2011-2013