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Tuesday, October 10, 2006  

"Churches" Defined by the IRS

Complete IRS text available here

The term church is found, but not specifically defined, in the Internal Revenue Code. With the exception of the special rules for church audits, the use of the term church also includes conventions and associations of churches as well as integrated auxiliaries of a church.

Certain characteristics are generally attributed to churches. These attributes of a church have been developed by the IRS and by court decisions. They include:

Distinct legal existence
Recognized creed and form of worship
Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
Formal code of doctrine and discipline
Distinct religious history
Membership not associated with any other church or denomination
Organization of ordained ministers
Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
Literature of its own
Established places of workshop
Regular congregations
Regular religious services
Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young
Schools for the preparation of its members
The IRS generally uses a combination of these characteristics, together with other facts and circumstances, to determine whether an organization is considered a church for federal tax purposes.

Source: Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations

posted by the Editor | 11:33 AM
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