Are You Placing Your Donors in Jeopardy of Tax Penalties

As I travel across the country assisting Churches and Clergy with their Church books and records, I am constantly amazed at the number of Churches and Pastors who feel as if they are not required or should not obtain a legal 501(c)(3) exemption for their Church and Ministry. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Jack Taylor of the Indianapolis Baptist Tabernacle (IBT) was denied tax-deduction credit for his donations. The Internal Revenue Service and the Court Judge declared that Mr. Taylor did not prove that IBT was a legitimate church. The Judge declared that all donations for tax credit were solely at the mercy of the IRS and its agents. This snafu cost Mr. Taylor a lot of money in back taxes, penalties, and interest.

I Thought Churches Were Not Required to File 1023

Although Churches do not have to file Form 1023 requesting a legitimate 501(c)(3), the Court Judge declared that nothing in the law “. . . relieves a church from having to meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).” It also declared that “. . . contributors must prove the church’s right to an exemption under section 501(c)(3) in order to be entitled to a deduction for their contributions.”

Burden of Proof

Without legal 501 (c) (3) status, it is solely the donor’s responsibility to prove that the Church to whom they donated is, in fact, an IRS recognized Church.

In another IRS court case, the court said that anyone who contributes to a church that does not have 501(c)(3) status “. . . may deduct that contribution from his or her income, but if the contributor is audited, he or she has the burden of establishing that the church meets the qualifications of section 501(c)(3) organization . . .” in order to get a tax deduction.

Why would any Church or Ministry place this onus on the back of its faithful donors? To do so is irresponsible. Without the 501(c)(3), the donors may have to prove they deserve the deduction.

Charitable donations to Churches are covered in IRS code section 170(c), which states that donations to Churches are deductible. However, that section also clearly states that the organization must operate in a manner that is consistent with section 501(c)(3). This means that in the absence of the church’s official 501(c)(3) status, the donor must bear the burden of proving that his or her donation is tax-deductible by showing that the church meets all of the requirements as outlined in section 501(c)(3).

Let Us Help

There is no reason that any donor to a Church should ever have to face the burden of having to prove that the Church to which they donated is indeed a Church. For Churches to be non-compliant in this area means one of two things: Either the Pastor and Church do not care about any burden they are placing upon their donors, or the Pastor and Church Leaders did not know? I choose to believe that the Pastors and Church Leaders did not know.

If my premise is correct, take the necessary steps now to ensure that your donors and their generous gifts of support are protected for tax-deduction credit. To do so, attend the Church Management and Tax Conference in the city nearest you. To register, call 800-344-0076 or visit www.cmtc.org. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

As the Ultimate Church Management Firm in the USA, we know how to protect your Church and Ministry from any IRS violations that may unknowingly loom over you. The reason for our confidence is because Churches and Ministries are all we have done for more than 78 years. As our client, you can rest assured that your Church or Ministry receives our utmost attention and expertise.

Remember, for us; it is “A Ministry – Not A Job!”

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