In any instance where a church rents or leases its facilities to a for profit entity careful consideration should be given to several areas of concern. The primary areas of concern are:
- Determining a fair market rate of rental for the use of the facilities—Churches cannot allow their assets to be utilized in a for profit business without fair compensation for the use of the assets. Therefore, the rental rate for the property should be market rate for similar space in the area of the church. Below market rental can create an adverse consequence for the church.
- Determining the income tax consequences of the payments received by the church for the rent received in light of all the rules surrounding unrelated business income tax. In some instances, rental income is not unrelated business income and in some instances, it is.
- Reviewing the effects of the rental agreement on other areas; i.e., property tax exemptions and insurance coverage.
The potential issues can be vast and the resolutions can often depend on small factors that cannot be discerned when speaking in general circumstances. Therefore, this question should be considered by competent tax counsel who can review all the facts and circumstances of the specific instance and assist the church in evaluating all the above areas of concern.
The above information is current as of October 12, 2009.