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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Mail Order Churches

§ 5.01.02
Key point 5-01.02.A "mail order church" is a sham organization that is created in order to reduce or eliminate the founder's tax liability. Often, such organizations purchase a "church charter" through the mail from an organization that also offers ministerial "credentials." Such organizations are not recognized as "churches" by the IRS.

In recent years, many taxpayers have attempted to exclude all or part of their income from federal taxation through the creation of a mail order church. The IRS Internal Revenue Manual addresses the subject of mail order churches as follows:

The term "mail order church" refers to organizations set up pursuant to "church charters" purchased through the mail from organizations that claim that the charters and other "ministerial credentials" can be used to reduce or eliminate an individual's ...

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