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World Pantheist Movement: Incorporation and IRS tax exemption
|Tax Deductibility of Contributions|
|Recognition as a Religious Charity|
|Recognition as a church|
Incorporation as a non-profit organization
The World Pantheist Movement was incorporated on June 28 1998 in the state of Colorado.
The Certificate of Incorporation can be viewed here. Colorado was chosen for the simple reason that one of our founding directors was a practising lawyer in Denver, and so could oversee the incorporation process free of charge.
A verifiable certificate of good standing was issued by Colorado Deparytment of State on April 28 2003. The certificate can be viewed here.
The certificate is in the format of a PDF file for which you will need Acrobat Reader, availably free on the Web. Acrobat is a very useful plug-in to have, as many United Nations and NGO reports, government and scientific documents are stored in this format.
In December 1999 we obtained an advanced ruling from the US Inland Revenue recognizing us as a
publicly supported charity organized for religious purposes (Sections 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the IRS code). This advanced ruling applies from the date of our incorporation (June 29 1998) to December 31, 2002. You can view the IRS advanced ruling here.
To obtain a permanent ruling, within 90 days of December 31, 2002 we were required to submit to the IRS evidence that we are funded by public contributions, along with 5 yrs accounts to establish this. You can view the 5 year accounts here. You can view here the definitive IRS ruling accepting that we are a publicly supported charity organized for religious purposes (Sections 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the IRS code).
The general conditions of IRS tax exemption are that the organization is organized exclusively for charitable or religious purposes, that no part of its net earnings will inure to the benefit of private shareholders or individuals, and that it will not attempt to influence legislation or take part in political campaigning.
We intend to apply for charitable status in other countries with large active memberships. The United Kingdom will probably be the first of these. However, in the UK the Charity Commissioners will not even look at your application until you have an annual income of at least £1,000. When we reach that level, we will apply.
Tax deductability of contributions and donations
US contributors and donors who want to claim their donations against their tax liabilities may rely on the above IRS ruling. This applies to income tax, Federal Estate Tax and Gift Tax.
If you wish to donate $250 or more, and you plan to claim this against your tax liabilities, make sure that you ask for a written ackowledgement from the WPM if we didn't already send you one:
* before you make your tax return for the year in which the contribution is made, or
* at the latest before the due date for filing the return.
Recognition as a religious organization
The IRS accepts an organization as religious if it claims to be so AND:
1. Its beliefs are truly and sincerely held AND
2. Its practices and rituals are not illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy.
The World Pantheist Movement qualifies under all these headings.
Recognition as a church
Recognition as a "church" brings additional tax benefits - the main (if dubious) one being that the church does not need to file any tax returns ever again. The World Pantheist Movement does not regard this as a legitimate aim at all, and will always make its accounts publicly available.
However, we might find it advantageous to be a church in relation to getting states to recognize our celebrants as qualified to perform weddings and funerals. But it will be some years before we can establish the IRS' long list of requirements for church status, if indeed we wish to at all. The IRS list is strongly shaped by the structure and language of more traditional conventional religious groups.