I’ve been working on the IRS’s 1023 form, lately. It’s a right monster, to be sure. Bloody thing has me up all night some nights. You would think a government form would just be a long form of “yes/no” and short sentence questions. Well, I can tell you that’s a load of… well, nothing that can be said in polite company.
If you’ve been to university, you may remember the nasty tests that you took in some of the liberal arts classes. Some questions were multiple choice, some true/false, and some were short or long essay questions. This is what the IRS 1023 form is: a several-pages-long test where if you don’t input the answers they’re looking for, you fail (and lose your $400 filing fee). They’re not just looking at if you say you’re a church, they wish to know what your beliefs are and how you ordained your ministers. This is more than a little odd for an organization designed to collect taxes.
It isn’t a problem that they ask if we have ordained ministers or a prescribed liturgy. Granted, they do have the job of determining that a church is legitimate. However, asking WHAT those processes are can open up a church to what Kemetic Orthodoxy encountered a couple of years ago. An Illinois revenue agent came to them about taxes, and remarked, to their face (and their lawyer) that KO wasn’t “really a religion”. They then had to gather a number of testimonials and such together to prove they had an impact in people’s lives. This is AFTER they already had a 501(c)(3)!
Am I worried? A little. We’ve only 4 regular members, and a small collection of people who come to rites. It’s not even a congregation of 20. So yeah, I’m concerned. We’ll get through it, we always do; the hurdles to jump are just a little high.