Key point 5-01.03. Federal tax law refers to several kinds of religious organizations in addition to churches, including conventions or associations of churches, integrated auxiliaries of churches, integral parts of a church, and qualified church-controlled organizations. It is important to define these terms in order to determine whether or not special tax rules apply.
The Internal Revenue Code, income tax regulations, and IRS rulings refer to a number of church-related organizations, including conventions or associations of churches, integrated auxiliaries of a church, integral agencies of a religious organization, integral parts of a church, qualified church controlled organizations, religious and apostolic organizations, and religious orders. These terms are defined in a companion text. 76 R. HAMMAR, CHURCH AND CLERGY TAX GUIDE (published annually by the publisher of this text).
There is little if any justification for the confusing number of terms employed by the Internal Revenue Code and the income tax regulations in describing church-related organizations. Such terminology suggests a confusion on the part of Congress and the IRS in dealing with church-related organizations. An even more troubling concern is the largely discretionary authority of the IRS to interpret these ambiguously defined or undefined terms.
In summary, there clearly is a need for Congress to (1) reduce the unnecessarily confusing number of terms used in the Internal Revenue Code to describe church-related organizations; (2) sufficiently clarify the remaining definitions to eliminate discretionary application by the IRS; and (3) demonstrate a greater deference to the legitimate perceptions of bona fide churches concerning those entities that are sufficiently related as to come within the definition of the term church.