The "Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations" (the "Guide") was updated in 2002 and continues to provide churches and ministers with guidance on a variety of common tax issues. I will review the main provisions of the Guide, and point out its strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps most importantly, the Guide contains useful information regarding political activities by churches.
The Guide, which is 25 pages long, begins with the following comments:
Congress has enacted special tax laws applicable to churches, religious organizations and ministers in recognition of their unique status in American society and of their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
Churches and religious organizations are generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law; however, certain income of ...