Tax Exempt Status
Local churches may use the Group Ruling General Letter when documentation of 501c3 non-profit status is needed. Individual churches do not need to seek their own 501c3 filing.
If you need a letter specifically naming your church as included in the Group Ruling, you may submit a Group Ruling Request 501c3 Form to the General Council on Finance & Administration (GCFA). Once your request has been processed, you they will provide you with a letter.
For more information, see IRS Publication 1828 (pdf)
Property & Real Estate Tax Exemption
Under Virginia Tax Code 58.1-3617 property, including motor vehicles, owned or leased by churches and used predominantly for religious purposes are exempt from Virginia property taxes.
If the church rents out property and earns income from that arrangement, the property or the portion of the property that is used for non-religious purposes is subject to real estate tax. In the case where a portion of a building is leased, an accounting of the square footage and the leases will need to be provided to the city or county so the percentage of the building subject to real estate tax can be calculated.
Written acknowledgement of charitable gifts received by the church must be provided to donors. The acknowledgement must include the following:
• Name of the church
• Amount of the cash contribution
• Statement that “no goods or services were provided other than intangible religious benefits.”
Statements must be sent no later than January 31st for gifts received for the prior year.
Charitable contributions must be received no later than December 31st to be included in that year’s contribution. If it is mailed by the donor, it must be postmarked by December 31st.
Donors are responsible for obtaining written acknowledgement from a charity for any single contribution of $250 or more before the donor can claim the contribution on their federal income tax return.
For non-cash contributions, a letter should not state the value of the donation. It should still include the IRS statement.
For more information, see the following IRS publications:
Publication 1771 – Charitable Contributions Substantiation & Disclosure Requirements
Publication 526 – Charitable Contributions
Publication 561 – Determining Value of Donated Property