Key point 5-01.01. The IRS has adopted a 14-criteria test for use in determining whether or not a particular entity is a church for purposes of federal tax law. This test is theologically flawed, and is subject to challenge.
As noted above, the Internal Revenue Code contains several references to the term church, but provides no adequate definition. This is understandable, since a definition that is too narrow potentially interferes with the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom, while a definition that is too broad will encourage abuses in the name of religion.
The United States Supreme Court has noted that "the great diversity in church structure and organization among religious groups in this country … makes it impossible, as Congress perceived, to lay down a single rule to govern all church-related organizations." St. Martin Evangelical Lutheran Church v. South ...
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