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How to Start a Congregation

IRS 14 Points:

"The following listing of 14 Points is use by the IRS to assist in determining the classification of an organization as a Church or not"

  1. Distinct legal existence
  2. Recognized creed and form of worship
  3. Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
  4. Formal code of doctrine and discipline
  5. Distinct religious history
  6. Membership not associated with any other church or denomination
  7. Organization of ordained ministers
  8. Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of studies
  9. Literature of its own
  10. Established places of worship
  11. Regular congregations
  12. Regular religious services
  13. Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young
  14. Schools for preparation of its ministers

Depending upon how many of these points a religious organization has, or will have in the future, it may or may not be classified as a church by the IRS.

If a classification of church is not made, it is likely that the IRS would then make the classification of the new organization as a "religious organization," which may be tax-exempt also.

All organizations must be organized and operated for the religious purposes declared and must do business affairs in the accepted manners as setup in the Bylaws.

Specific classifications may change with changes in organizational practices or purposes.

Tax Exempt Status:

There is nothing negative about the classification of "religious organization" as opposed to a classification of the organization as a "church.” The only difference would be that the organization or ministry; might be required to file anual returns. That show the amount of income and the expenditure.

A church might not be required to disclosing its income or expenditures. Any new religious organization or even church may be given a temporary two-year exemption status after which the IRS would evaluate the organization to assess whether it has met the regulations and is operating properly, so that a permanent IRS tax classifications can be made.A religious organization can become a church and a church can become a religious organization depending upon its activities and methods of operation. The protection of the exempt status is important for all exempt organizations.

A church or religious organization must conduct its financial affairs in a professional manner, and as such must comply with the accounting practices generally applicable to all businesses. No new group has to have every point in order to receive classification as a church from the IRS.

  1. The first step taken by resolution by the new organization is made to the IRS for the EIN.
  2. The Universal Life Church is not responsible in any way for the financial affairs or the liability issues of any congregation. Each individual congregation is a "sovereign" entity. 
  3. There is no responsibility of the Universal Life Church to defend or support (other than religious encouragement to the congregation).
  4. Donations to be considered donations for income tax-deductible status must be made with no expectation of any benefit returning to the donor if they are to be claimed as charitable deductions to the donor.

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NOTE:The Universal Life Church does not engage in rendering accounting, legal or professional service advice. This information is provided "as is". The ULCS disclaim any loss or liability, either directly or indirectly as a consequence of applying the information presented herein, or in regard to the use of said information. No guarantee is given, either expressed or implied, in regard to the accuracy, or acceptability of the information.


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