By Dr. Greg J. Dixon
Every few days, we receive phone calls or e mails here at the Biblical Law Center that say, “Our church is not a 501 (c )(3) organization. When I ask them why do they say that, they usually answer, “Because we are not incorporated, or we have never filed with the IRS, etc.” Others might say that they are a house church or that they don’t have an EIN number or that they operate strictly with cash or that they pay no salaries. Others might say that their church has been working with someone that has sold them a package deal over the internet and they church is some kind of a trust or corporation sole. Usually they have paid a pretty handsome sum for these schemes. Then there are those that rattle off various, so called patriot or constitutional jargonese, that some “constitutional” expert has convinced them will either work for them or has worked for others – which many times they have paid for. What the expert hasn’t told them is that often if they check further they will find that someone who has used that particular scheme is doing more reading up on that Constitutional plan in jail.
For some reason, there is wide spread confusion over Section 501 (c)(3) pertaining to churches and religious organizations at Title 26 of the IRS Code. Even though we have written other articles on this subject, they have not received much traction, so here we go again, making one more effort, to try and “put the cookies on the lower shelf”, as one of my professors in Bible College used to say, so no one will need to have an advanced law degree to understand, which believe me, I certainly don’t have. If I can decipher this maze of confusion, anyone can. But we must begin with the understanding that the code is written in code. It was not written to be understood; it was written to be misunderstood. That is the reason that the most intelligent of lawyers and CPA’s are confounded and continue to give such atrocious advice on this issue.
However, giving them the benefit of the doubt the IRS, the IRS has simplified this whole thing by condensing it into a Publication called IRS Publication 1828.