How to Find Out If a Church Is Incorporated

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Although there are various means by which to determine if your church is a corporation, the best option is to check with your state's division of corporations. While churches may be organized as various types of business entities, filing as a non-profit is the most common and advantageous.

1 Determine Filing Status

2 Under state law

Under state law, churches may organize under various statuses; however, most file as non-profit corporations. Churches are not required to file for non-profit status although many do for the sake of their members and contributors who are more likely to donate when assured the church has received that recognition. Besides tax exemptions, officials of not-for-profit incorporated churches are free of any personal debt liability that the church may incur.

3 Are to receive tax-deductible contributions

A comprehensive list of all organizations that are able to receive tax-deductible contributions, known as Publication 78, is available from the Internal Revenue Service. A searchable version of Publication 78 is available from the IRS at (See Resource 1.)

4 Offer an online searchable database of corporations

Most states offer an online searchable database of corporations through their department or bureau of corporations. Accompanying the business listing, the state should also provide the church’s filing status, i.e., non-profit, for-profit, etc. Many state databases allow you to use the company name or uniform commercial code as search criteria.

5 Offers the Securities and Exchange Commission s EDGAR database

The U.S. Government offers the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database for all publicly-traded corporations. (See Reference 2.) The Securities and Exchange Commission allows the general public to search its EDGAR database of filings for all publicly-traded corporations. EDGAR allows users to search corporate listings from the most recent to a host of those contained in their archives. Filings may also be searched using other user-friendly options such as a full-text search and file number searches. Hard copies of individual filings are also available via link from the SEC’s EDGAR search.

6 Are also private means to determine if your church is a corporation

There are also private means to determine if your church is a corporation. Sites such as allow you to find churches that are listed as businesses for a fee. (See Resource 3.) An online resource that is free but a bit daunting is (See Resource 2.) Hoovers will be able to inform you as to whether your church is a for-profit or non-profit corporation.

Dale Mann is a freelance writer who has been writing professionally since 2009. Mann has been published in "How to Think Like a Leader" by author Maria Berdusco, "The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review" and in the oral history production, "New Kensington Is..." He is a 2009 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism communications.