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.
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
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
Eligible Donees Generally Not Listed
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
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