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legal center describes a legal church,religion:are we one? (84 views)

ticle Center▸Money Matters▸Taxes▸Other Tax Topics▸What Constitutes a Church Under Federal Laws?

What Constitutes a Church Under Federal Laws?
Heleigh Bostwick by Heleigh Bostwick
Marketing Communications Specialist
What Constitutes a Church Under Federal Laws?
by Heleigh Bostwick, December 2009
Most churches are easy to recognize when we see them -- a congregation hall, rows of pews, probably a steeple. But what constitutes a church in the eyes of the IRS?

Definitions of Church

The issue of establishing definitions for a church has big implications. Institutions that are considered churches are granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code.

Common definitions of the word "church" refer to the religious entity or organization, not just the building itself. The definition becomes more complicated when taking in to account each religious group's own definition of what constitutes a church.

Churches and the IRS

To clarify the federal government's definitions of a churches and other religious institution, the Internal Revenue Service uses clearly-defined guidelines. Over the years, the IRS has revised this list in response to various court decisions. To define churches and other religious entities, some of the IRS guidelines consider whether or not an institution has:

a distinct legal existence and religious history,
a recognized creed and form of worship,
established places of worship
a regular congregation and regular religious services, and
an organization of ordained ministers
Most mainstream religions such as Catholicism, Judaism, and common Protestant sects fit easily within the IRS guidelines. However, churches that are less traditional sometimes face difficulty in meeting the federal government's definition.

Qualifying as a Church

Some of the confusion over churches arises when the IRS differentiates between religious institutions like churches, and religious organizations. The IRS offers the following with regard to religious organizations, "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."

However, in some cases a religious organization may qualify as a church even if it does not appear to be a church in the traditional sense. This is the case with Young Life, a nonprofit organization that the IRS officially recognized as a church following a July 2005 Ruling.

Interestingly, Young Life does not have an established place of worship or church building per se, but it does have weekly meetings at specific locations. In the end, although Young Life did not meet all federal criteria for religious entities, the IRS concluded that it did meet a sufficient number of them to qualify as a church.

The bottom line is that the IRS has created specific guidelines on churches and other religious entities to determine their tax status. However, it is not a requirement that a church meet all the criteria. Instead, the IRS offers some flexibility, giving various religious institutions the opportunity to qualify for the highly coveted tax exempt status.

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OK. smiley i said I would look up "what is legally a church and religion"
, and this is it, off Legal Zoom.Good legal definition.Dr.Evil is priest, we are the congregation, ect ect. we pretty much have a belief system we organize,come together in,and we have the basic stuff.if we have to CONGREGATE TOGETHER OB A SCHEDULE we can do that.we do it informally any way!!

i also will try to get more info, that makes this REAL GOD WORSHIPPING BELIEF SYSTEM THAT IS A CHURCH.IF those awful hippies who treat members like slave sex objects and abuse kids, can be a real religion why can't we??we don't even do that bad stuff!!(irony). smiley smiley smiley

we even have a mascot;my cat,Bella.(I should uplioad a picture."cat worship" can be p[art ofit."pet worship companions.

There is something we never talk about that lends to this;' we all get along,being from all parts of the world, all over.--and we are good at it.(mostly)belief systems that say"people of the world congregate together,have a church together, and get along together, is a major advance in human relations.I think it is!

!If anything is good about two-movies.me that is part of it,I like meeting the Brits,the Scots,the Irish, ect.-0--all of you are real people and we understand that everyone all over, has the same needs of the human being.--and two-movies.me is almost a "quasi-religion."

So Dr. Evil please take my silly idea seriously, at least until we try to make it real."quasi-religions"like AA are definite belief systems with principles--we have principles!!Dr. Evil has real principles.--I hope no one thinks I am crazy with this, it MIGHT WORK.--MAYBE NOT--but i will try it. smiley smiley


@clarachan1355 Lol. This is a very divisive place. It is a sad reflection of the current state of some societies. If it was just a movie site, as it’s meant to be, then perhaps we’d all be followers of movies, but there are too many angry people who don’t believe in the good of the whole, and instead believe in me me me, and sling too much vitriol if you don’t agree with that notion, to make this a place where everyone shares the same beliefs and subscribes to maintaining goodwill. I suspect even your lovely cat would make cat-haters angry that we didn’t pick their dog or pet ferret or bullfrog to be the mascot we are choosing to “worship”. I like cats. I love dogs. I have no problem with a cat mascot, but if someone picked their pet tarantula, I’d have to figure out how to block them just so I couldn’t see the photo, lol.

Nice thoughts, though. 😊 I like nice thoughts!


@ditzygypsy thank you, and yes,we had awful arguments lately;I only put this page out in desperation to help the web owners themselves, becuz of the future illegalities we face soon,& we might lose this site in future;i was trying to FIND A LEGAL PROTECTION for the site in future.--and we could take the "religion"lightly,cuz its just to try & help the site stay LEGAL in future.--mostly.our "religion"is movie-watching."--trying to fool the IRS and govt,and just keep two-movies.me up. smiley


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