What you need to know now
Churches are in the charity business.
As employers, churches are significantly affected by the new health care reform legislation.
In this modern era, many churches are offering more and more services to its congregants to attract new members, retain established members and create revenue to operate the church or fund its programs. Common examples may include a bookstore or coffee bar. As a general rule, a church is not taxed on its income or revenues from an activity that is substantially related to the religious or charitable purposes of the organization.
How important to a church is having an Accountable Reimbursement Plan (ARP)? With an ARP, expense reimbursements and advances are not reported as wages and are exempt from withholding and employment taxes. Without an ARP, reimbursed expenses, even when legitimate, must be reported as wages and are subject to withholding and employment taxes.
Churches often maintain benevolence funds to assist needy individuals in times of financial crisis. However, these churches may not have enough structure in place to provide essential direction and documentation.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), an advocacy and action alliance group in Scottsdale, AZ, which has the stated purpose of defending religious freedom, sponsored a project to challenge the 54-year-old ban on churches being allowed to participate in political activities.