What is the best way to obtain 501c3 status for individual churches

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I know many churches have obtained 501c3 status. this is indeed an asset for a congregation. It allows them to expand their outreach as well as other programs for the community. What is the best way to get this process started. If basic information is shared throughout the connection then it is not necessary to recreate the wheel. Thanks for any help.

-- Anonymous, July 03, 2003


The only help that I can lend is the website below but the specifics are for the State of Georgia. There's some information on this site that is not state-specific and should help with the basics.


God's blessings upon your church's endeavor to establish itself under this statue. 501c3 status is a God-send especially for churches that are serious about ministry and outreach beyond the santuary walls.

B Blessed,

PHIL419 kc

-- Anonymous, July 03, 2003

The answer may be slightly different for each state. The 501c3 status is from the IRS and you must make application to receive that status. In Texas, the process begins with incorporation of the Church as a Non-Profit Corporation. All AME churches per our Discipline must be incorporated. The office of the Secretary of State (for your state) is the place to get the instructions. Texas has a Web site with complete instructions. To locate your Secretary of State, you can use the Google.com search engine by typing in "Secretary of State" followed by your state, Texas for me of course. This will bring up your state scretary's web site. If by some chance your state does not have instructions, you can go to the Texas site and use those. This will require Articles of Incorporation which most Lawyers will prepare for between $50.00 and $100.00. You can visit the 10th Episcopal District web site: http://www.amec-10thdist.org and find the instructions I have placed there, including a sample of the Article4s of Incorporation that satisfy the requirements for Texas. You will note how simple the Articles are. This is so because our Discipline is registered with the State of Texas, thereby allowing us to simply reference it rather than writing complicated articles. Hope this helps.

BE Blessed

Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, July 03, 2003

All AME Churches are covered under the group 501 (C) 3 of the denomination--

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2003

Not so. As far as the IRS is concerned all churches are tax-exempt uder 501c3, but no individual or business is required to respect the tax-exempt status (to not collect sales tax for example)unless the church has the evidence (from the IRS) to support that status. In order to get the benefits of 501c3 status, each church must apply and receive this exemption. This means the church must be a corporation with appropriate Tax ID, etc. I am the Chairman of the Northeast Texas Annual Conference Trustee Board and because of statements like the above, I have to spend too much of my time trying to explain that all of our churches must be incorporated, must have a TAX ID number, and must apply for and recieve 501c3 Status. A church must be a corporation in order to conduct business; that is to make contracts, borrow money, receive donations, etc. If a person makes a significant donation to a church, the church must provide that individual with its Tax Number which can be verified as a Non- Profit Corporation, thereby allowing the individual to claim that donation on his/her Income Tax return. If you check the 2000 Discipline you will find that all AME Churches and Annual Conferences are REQUIRED to incorporate.

BE Blessed Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, July 05, 2003

Since I have a Bachelors Degree in business, I sometimes take for granted skills such as 501c3 applications. If you would like to train yourself or your leaders with more business information concerning the church, I would like to suggest a great book:

Economic Empowerment Through the Church: A Blueprint for Progressive Community Development, bu Gregory Reed.

It is a "must have" reference book on every minister's shelf that is looking to use the church for community growth.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2003

Thanks for the info about the book, it sounds like a great book to do a retreat with. Please tell me why you think this book is so good. Thanks

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2003

Sure! I recently wrote a paper about economic empowerment in the Harrisonburg, VA area and I was overwhelmed by the literature that gave huge hypotheses about what the Black church NEEDS to do, rather than a blueprint of HOW to do it.

Reed's book is a reference book. If you need information on how to create an Employment for Minister Contract, its in there. If you want to develop a Church & Community Development Corporation, its in there as well. It's a handy "how-to" book that will train our church leaders on a progressive level that normally isnt taught in the seminary halls.

Hope this helps.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2003

Actually all AME churches are covered under the national status of the connectional church. You should call the General Office and they will send you a form with directions on how to apply for 501c3 status. The General Office will notify the IRS and your local state offices that your church is an incorporated 501c3 under the premises of the AME church. Our church just completed this process.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2003

I read some good responses. I live in new york and here it is very complicated to get 501c3 help. also every one here want $500.00 to $800.00 to help or do the papers. any suggestions

-- Anonymous, August 07, 2003

I find some of the opinions here to be a bit troubling. No one has yet asked the question, "Is it biblically supportable for a church to be a 501c3?" As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I thought the Word of God is to be our standard.

Before making a decision about not only 501c3 status, but also incorporation, it would be good to get the other side of the story. There's over 1 million attorneys in this country, and practically all of them will recommend incorporated 501c3 status for my church. I don't trust everything I hear from attorneys, especially since they hardly ever give both sides of the story.

To get the other side of the story, you might want to check out http://501c3.info

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2004

The Bible clearly teaches that we are to obey all governing authorities put into place by God. In the Gospels we see Jesus paying the tax required and His teaching also supports this. You are not going to find 501c3 in the Bible however the principles taught clearly indicate that we are to comply the authority.

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2004

"The Bible clearly teaches that we are to obey all governing authorities put into place by God. In the Gospels we see Jesus paying the tax required and His teaching also supports this. You are not going to find 501c3 in the Bible however the principles taught clearly indicate that we are to comply the authority."

And what does that "authority" legally require? Is there some law that says a church must become 501c3? No, there is no such law. Does the law even say that a church has to be 501c3 in order to be tax exempt? No, the law (and several IRS publications) state that churches are "automatically tax exempt and tax deductible" without ever having to apply (IRC 508c1A)

So why are you complying with laws that don't even apply to you? Did you go and register for selective service too? I assume not. But why not? Because, unless you just turned 18, that law doesn't apply to you.

Why then do you subjugate the church of Jesus Christ to the IRS when the law (501c3) doesn't even apply to your church?

If you're going to be consistent in your philosophy, you'd better go and register for selective service too, along with complying with the many thousands of other laws made by "the authority" in this country which don't apply to you either.

-- Anonymous, January 21, 2004

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