Publication 1828

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Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations


This publication explains the benefits and the responsibilities under the federal tax system for churches and religious organizations. The term church is found, but not specifically defined, in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The term is not used by all faiths; however, in an attempt to make this publication easy to read, we use it in its generic sense as a place of worship including, for example, mosques and synagogues. With the exception of the special rules for church audits, the use of the term church throughout this publication also includes conventions and associations of churches as well as integrated auxiliaries of a church.

Because special tax rules apply to churches, it is important to distinguish churches from other religious organizations. Therefore, when this publication uses the term "religious organizations," it is not referring to churches or integrated auxiliaries. Religious organizations that are not churches typically include nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, and other entities whose principal purpose is the study or advancement of religion.

Churches and religious organizations may be legally organized in a variety of ways under state law, such as unincorporated associations, nonprofit corporations, corporations sole, and charitable trusts.


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