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Filing Church Information Updates

 Though most churches are exempt from filing annual federal tax returns, there are other filings that are sometimes overlooked by churches.

Many states require any incorporated entity, including a church, to file a periodic information update with the Secretary of State or other agency. Failure to file this update in a timely manner can leave the church in a non-compliant or suspended status with the state, which can have negative consequences for the church over time.

The requirements for information updates vary greatly from state to state. Each church must comply with the unique requirements of its particular jurisdiction. Some states require annual filings; others require less frequent flings; others do not require a church to file at all.

If a church was originally incorporated by filing with the Secretary of State, at the state level, then a business entity search can often be made on the Secretary of State website to look up the church, and check if it is in compliance with all filing requirements. The form to complete for the information update can also be found on most Secretary of State websites. The information required is usually minimal, such as the name and address of the Registered Agent, or of the board members. Most states do not require any financial information to be filed.

If a church is in a jurisdiction that requires incorporation to be accomplished by filing at the County Clerk’s office, at the county level,  then the church will need to check with that office to determine if any filing updates are due and how to go about fling them.

Even if a church discovers that is in a non-compliant status for failure to file information returns, this can usually be remedied without any negative consequences by filing the appropriate forms.

If the government agency where your church is required to file information updates has accurate contact information, then the church should receive a notification when information filings are due. Some states will even provide these notices by email if the church has an accurate email address on file with the appropriate agency.

Further, even though churches are often exempt from annual filings with the IRS, it is important to keep the IRS updated of any major changes to the church, such as a church name change, or a church address change. To notify the IRS of a church address change, the church should file Form 8822-B, which can be downloaded from the IRS website. If the church has changed its official name according to the procedures of the state where it is located, the name change must be reported to the IRS via a letter. Visit the “Change of Name – Exempt Organizations” section of the IRS websites for details about the contents and destination address of the letter.

Finally, some local jurisdictions may require filings from a church. These vary greatly depending on where your church is located. Check with your local jurisdiction to see if any requirements apply.

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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