An incorporated or unincorporated Church, or evangelistic association, all kinds of youth outreached, jail and prison ministries, Gospel musical/singing groups, coffee house type ministries, Christian newsletter/literature publishing ministries, and many other kinds of non-profit Christian organizations.
And this applies anywhere in the U.S.A.!
THE TAX-EXEMPT LAWS
The early, right-minded statesmen, who built America as a free country for the Christian Church, because of the uplifting and ennobling influence of the Gospel of Christ upon society, granted special considerations for it. These legal provisions are the IRS tax-exempt laws for Churches, nonprofit religious organizations, and other socially helpful groups.
More recently, corrupt groups and even cults have taken advantage of these laws for their own selfish gain. They seek to circumvent the intent of the IRS rules, just as they do to the plain and clear meaning of the Scriptures. And due to religious scandals and pressures from atheists, humanists, and other ungodly people, the IRS has been steadily making it harder for Christian ministers to get through all of the hurdles to receive approval as a tax-exempt organization.
But thank God, there is a way for the smallest ministry to enjoy all of the same rights and privileges as any other tax-exempt religious group, and still retain complete liberty to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, without bondage to traditions, or obligations to human supervision.
The Full Gospel of Christ Fellowship, Inc., has been set up to help beginning ministries organize and become recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt. By affiliating your church or evangelistic work with the FGCFI, we can save sincere pastors and evangelists a great deal of work, time, and money.
WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO BE STRICTLY INDEPENDENT
To become tax-exempt on your own, it would require an enormous amount of three things—time, work, and money.
TIME: if everything goes well, it can easily take well over a year.
WORK: Many hours of telephone calls, "leg work," reading, learning, thinking, planning, writing, typing, mailing, and praying. For instance, the IRS package #1023 Application for Recognition of Exemption has eighty 8 1/2" x 11" pages. The IRS themselves estimate that studying the instructions alone requires about five hours. Then they estimate the filling out of the forms at about 9 1/2 hours, and 54 hours to prepare your records. But that's only if you have a high legal aptitude, and a lot of experience. Of course, it you have any questions you can always refer to form #557 (43 more pages of fine print legal language), or to form #578, or form #598, etc.
MONEY: If you wish to incorporate under your state, you may need a lawyer, but they will usually charge you from $500 to $2,000. Most states require a fee of about $75.00 to grant you a charter, and an additional fee every year to stay current.
Then after all of that, you will need to file the completed forms with the IRS, and include a non-refundable users fee, whether you are approved or not.
So all of this could easily run you more than $2,000.
But there is an alternative. If you chose to become an affiliate with the FGCFI, it will not take much time, work, or money. You will not need to pay anything to an attorney or the IRS. However, you will still have to pay some small fees in your state for the proper licensing with them.
A Group Ruling is a determination notice issued by the IRS to a Central Organization, recognizing on a group basis, the tax-exempt status of all its affiliate organizations; and since we may have an unlimited number of qualified affiliates, one might ask, "Is the FGCFI something like a mini-denomination?"
The dictionary defines a denomination as "an organization; the units of some system; a certain class of things; a particular religious body," and as far as the IRS is concerned, the FGCFI is on the same legal level as any denomination, but we reject that term because Jesus specifically forbid the ecclesiastical hierarchy system among his disciples (Mark 10:42, 43). And Paul condemned the development of party spirits among believer, as contrary to the unity of the Church (1 Corinthians 1:10-13 and 1 Corinthians 3:3-9).
We are not trying to build our own dictatorial empire, but only up-build God's Great Eternal Kingdom.
SPIRITUAL AND SOCIAL BENEFITS OF AFFILIATION
There is strength in numbers, and power in unity. Business enterprises and even wicked gangs know this. It may be nice to be strictly independent if you are super-successful, but it can be rough at times if you're not so great. It's much easier for Satan to discourage or overcome a "lone ranger" of minister. Romans 14:7 says, "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." Which means, that it’s not God's Will for you to be an isolated island. We Christians are One Body (Ephesians 2:19-22).
If you are already set up and established as a big success, then you probably don't need our help; but if you're still trying to make it, the FGCFI Umbrella Plan is probably just what you've been looking for.
It's also very encouraging to know that you're not battling the World and the devil all alone, and that there is someone on earth who understands exactly what you're doing, cares whether you're successful or not, and is interested in promoting your ministry, standing with you in prayer and faith, and is always ready to counsel you with any spiritual problems or legal questions that you may encounter.
FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF AFFILIATION
There are some significant financial benefits available to you, and good economic reasons for coming under the FGCFI Umbrella:
If your ministry has the legal right to write income tax deductible receipts, it encourages larger contributions and more offerings, by providing your supporters with legitimate tax relief. And of course, the more your givers deduct from their taxes, the more they have to give to God.
If some business donates any property, equipment, or other supplies to your ministry, you could write them a legal, income tax deductible receipt for the highest market value thereof. This can develop into a mutually happy relationship that is repeated annually.
Do you ever give food baskets to the poor, or provide boxes of groceries to needy families? Well, if you become an FGCFI affiliate, you can get all kinds of groceries from the Food Bank in your area for free or just pennies per pound. They collect millions of pounds of food annually for redistribution, and this is a great way to demonstrate the love of God to your constituents. You can load your truck down and fill up your backseat with beef, pork, chicken, fish, butter, bread, cheese, milk, all kinds of canned goods, cereal, sugar, flour, cooking oil, coffee, and more, every week. This adds up to a lot, year after year, and remember the principle given in Deuteronomy 25:4
You will never have to pay any Federal (and depending upon your state, State and local) taxes on any property, including real estate, as long as it is owned by your organization. Motor vehicles are usually an exemption, and of course, as a private citizen, you must pay taxes on your own personal income.
Whenever you purchase anything for your ministry, you will be exempt from paying Sales Tax on most things (again this depends upon your State). Since the laws on this will vary from state to state, you can obtain information from your state sales tax agency.
Do you ever mail out revival brochures, a periodical newsletter, or other Christian literature? Well, as our affiliate you are eligible to apply to your main post office for a "Bulk Mailing Permit" and save 2/3 of the cost of postage. There is an annual fee to the post office. You will have to sort and bundle it according to zip codes, and there is a minimum of 200 pieces each mailing.
Without proper documentation, some backs won’t even accept a religious checking account. But with written proof of your organization's status, you may be exempt from normal service charges. In some banks, this would be known as a business checking account for a nonprofit organization.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FGCFI AND ITS AFFILIATES
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a Divinely Ordained Institution, a spiritual organism made up of all God's children, found among many groups, fellowships, and organizations that often overlap in their local expression.
The IRS uses such terminology as the "subordinate organization" is to be "under the supervision and control" of the "parent organization." But we don't like such implications. Jesus said, "Henceforth I call you not servants...but I have called you friends..." (John 15:15). And He said, "...all ye are brethren" (Matthew 23:8).
We consider our credentialed ministers as teammates united in Christ; our affiliate organizations as units of FGCFI; your ministry as part of our outreach, and you as our representative.
The Full Gospel of Christ Fellowship, Inc., is an organization of organizations, but claims no ecclesiastical authority over its affiliates. Worldly organizations assume the form of a pyramid of power, and each officer makes much of their own position in the chain of command. But Jesus plainly said this kind of authority system shall not be among us (Matthew 20:25-27 and Luke 22:25, 26).
The FGCFI has no intentions of ever exercising any attributes of religious authority over any affiliated Church or Christian ministry, so as to undermine the freedom of God's servants to carry out their work, activities, and programs as they feel led by God. Rather, we are dedicated to upholding the uncompromised sovereignty of our Affiliate Organizations. We dare not interfere in the affairs of our Churches, or dictate to our evangelists.
The Principle Office of the FGCFI simply serves as a tax-exempt Umbrella, a central point of reference for spiritual unity and legal identity, and offers information, encouragement, and counsel to those who want it.
We are devoted to fostering love and unity among God-called pastors and evangelists everywhere.
We are not legalistic in spirit and prescribe only minimally to the regulations as required by the IRS to preserve financial integrity and responsibility, such as the proper keeping of records. All funds and properties of each Affiliate Organization belong solely to that ministry, and likewise the FGCFI has no liability for any indebtedness of any of our Affiliates. All of FGCFI's own officers, credentialed ministers, and Affiliated Organizations, are morally responsible and financially accountable to God, this central organization, and to the IRS. We are pledged to be true to God, the Body of Christ, and the laws of the land. We tolerate no fraud in funds or discrepancies in handling money, and any intentional instances thereof shall meet with swift correctional action.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Full Gospel of Christ Fellowship, Inc., does not require the leader or officers of an Affiliate Organization to be licensed or ordained by FGCFI, although most of them either are, or probably will be.
We do require all affiliates to generally agree with our simple, fundamental doctrinal statement, to be governed by our organizational by-laws, and to conduct their own ministries according to the regulations of the IRS Code 501(c)3, and of course, to live by the Bible.
We will need you to fill out an identifying questionnaire about yourself and your work for the Lord. This information will be held in strict confidence.
You will not need an attorney. If you already have incorporation papers for your organization you will need to send us copies of them, your Articles of Organization (Constitution and By-Laws), and any other legal documentation that you may have. If you do not have any enabling instrument or organizational documents, we can supply you with a "generic" set, and all you will have to do is fill in the blank or completely retype them as you see fit.
You must have a Board of Directors or a Council of Elders. The minimum is 3 and the maximum is 9. They must be 21 years old or more, and citizens of the U.S.A. You should select very congenial people who share your same beliefs and ministerial vision, to be on your Board of Directors.
You must have at least one organizational business meeting per year, and take minutes of it.
We will send you a blank form of a Resolution authorizing FGCFI to include you in our Group Ruling. You will need to fill it out, sign it, have it notarized, and then send it back to us.
Compose a brief narrative description of the nature and activities of your religious work and send it to us.
Before formally organizing your ministry, your personal money and God's money were probably carried in the same pocket or purse. You may have been too busy preaching and praying to scarcely count it. But now you must keep your own money and your organization's funds completely separate, even though you may derive all or part of your support from your ministry. You must understand that all money and property donated to your ministry, once it's accepted in the name of your organization, is irrevocably devoted to religious work and can never revert back to private ownership or to the personal benefit of any individual—except in the form of a salary, or an occasional offering to someone else.
You must prepare a past, present, and/or proposed budget of the income and expenditures of your organization. We will send you several examples of organizational budgets so you can get an idea of what is expected.
Start keeping a record of all tax receipted contributions in a book. You will need to compile an annual financial report and furnish a summary thereof to the FGCFI, which we must file. It will also be kept strictly confidential.
You must keep us informed of any changes in your name, address, and activities. We must hear from you at least once a year.
WHY THERE IS A FEE TO THE FGCFI
We have spent several years researching information from various governmental agencies, etc., to be able to provide this service to you. After a great expense of time, labor, and money, we are finally able to extend this great privilege of tax-exempt status to other Churches and evangelistic ministries. In addition to all of the regular fees, FGCFI has to pay an additional $500 user's fee to the IRS for our Group Ruling, so we have to collect some fees from our Affiliates to recoup all of the outlays of cash we have expended.
FGCFI charges a fee to compensate for our constant ongoing administration and office work of record filing, producing forms, typing, printing, postage, handling, equipment upkeep, supplies, utilities, etc.
We would also like to raise additional revenues to continue to reach out to more ministers just like you, to help them, and to even upgrade our ability to better serve everyone.
WHEN DOES YOUR EXEMPTION STATUS BECOME EFFECTIVE?
FCGFI must submit to the IRS an ANNUAL UPDATED LIST of all our Affiliate Organizations, and accompanying information, upon which the IRS will issue a notice to FGCFI that all our Affiliates are exempt under our Group Ruling. Your tax-exempt status will be effective retroactively up to 15 months back from the sate we apply for you, toward the date of your formation.
So if your organization has paid any income tax during that period, you may file for a refund.
Our Affiliates are required to file a form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement for Employees, if the organization pays as much as a $100 salary annually to them. If you elect to do so, your organization may file form #8274 for exemption from Employers Social Security taxes, if you file before the first date on which a quarterly employment Social Security tax payment would be due. But you must state that you are opposed to it purely upon religious grounds.
EXCEPTIONS TO EXEMPTIONS
Even though our Affiliates are recognized as tax-exempt, you may still be liable for taxes on UNRELATED BUSINESS INCOME such as a trade or business that is owned by your organization, if it receives $1,000 or more gross income from it a year. You may also have to file form #990 and make quarterly payments if such annual taxes amount to $40 or more
REFUND OF FEES PAID TO THE FGCFI
If one of our Affiliates fails to meet the requirements of the IRS for recognition of tax exemption, and are thus not approved, any fees paid to the FGCFI will be completely refunded.
If, after review of your application and papers, we find your organization unacceptable to us, you will receive a full refund of all fees paid to the FGCFI.
After your organization becomes affiliated with the FGCFI, if we ever decide to revoke your tax-exempt status under our Group Ruling, your fee will be refunded on a prorated basis. But the only reasons that the FGCFI would ever rescind the status of an Affiliate would be because of:
Proven immorality of the leader.
Deliberate financial corruption.
Adoption of serious false doctrines.
Failure to keep us informed of any changes in your name, address, or the purpose, character, or methods of operation of your organization.
Willful refusal to pay the agreed-upon fees to the FGCFI. (If there is a real financial hardship, surely with God's help, we can work something out).
In such an event, you may be on temporary suspension, but after repentance, a period of restoration, or correction, you may be reinstated.
If you ever change your mind, your organization may withdraw from the FGCFI for any reason. You may or may not decide to file form #1023 to obtain tax-exemption on your own behalf. In such cases, there will be no refund of fees.
In the event of an enactment of legislation, ratification of a tax treaty, decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, or the issuance of a new revenue riling published by the IRS, we may lose our tax-exempt status. In such a case, there will be no refund of fees.