Congress has enacted special tax laws applicable to churches, religious organizations, and ministers in recognition of their unique status in American society and of their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Churches and religious organizations are generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law; however, certain income of a church or religious organization may be subject to tax, such as income from an unrelated business.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers this quick reference guide of federal tax law and procedures for churches and religious organizations to help them voluntarily comply with tax rules. The contents of this publication reflect the IRS interpretation of tax laws enacted by Congress, Treasury regulations, and court decisions. The information given is not comprehensive, however, and does not cover every situation. Thus, it is not intended to replace the law or be the sole source of information.

The resolution of any particular issue may depend on the specific facts and circumstances of a given taxpayer. In addition, this publication covers subjects on which a court may have made a decision more favorable to taxpayers than the interpretation by the IRS. Until these differing interpretations are resolved by higher court decisions, or in some other way, this publication will present the interpretation of the IRS.

For more detailed tax information, the IRS has assistance programs and tax information products for churches and religious organizations, as noted in the back of this publication. Most IRS publications and forms can be downloaded from the IRS Web site at, or ordered by calling toll-free (800) 829-3676. Specialized information can be accessed through the Exempt Organizations (EO) Web site under the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities division via or by calling EO Customer Account Services toll-free at (877) 829-5500.

The IRS considers this publication a living document, one that will be revised to take into account future developments and feedback. Comments on the publication may be submitted to the IRS at the following address:

1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20224
Attn: T:EO:CE&O