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Definition of "Church"

What is a "church" by IRS standards?

• A federal appeals court ruled that a religious organization was not a "church." The organization was formed to (1) "spread the message of God's love and hope throughout the world;" (2) "provide a place in which those who believe in the existence of God may present religious music to any persons interested in hearing such;" and (3) distribute literature and recordings of religious teachings and music. The organization maintained an outdoor amphitheater on its property, at which musical programs and an occasional "retreat" or "festival" were conducted about 12 times each year. No other regularly scheduled religious or musical services were conducted. Most of the musical events were held on Saturdays so that persons could attend their own churches on Sundays. Musical services consisted of congregational singing of religious music. A minister always opened and closed these events with ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • May 1, 1991

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