A recent article by the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability®), noted that churches will get a free pass regarding the revocation of 275,000 nonprofit organizations.
Reporting on the recent revocation of tax status of 275,000 nonprofit organizations, the New York Times reported the action shrinks the nation’s nonprofit sector by roughly 17 percent, to about 1.3 million charities, trade associations, membership groups and labor unions. The IRS took action against charities that failed to file required paperwork for three consecutive years. Note: Churches are not required to file Form 990 and, therefore, churches were not included in the 275,000 organizations relating to this revocation of tax-exempt status.
Some organizations that identify themselves as churches may appear on the Automatic Revocation of Exemption List (Auto-Revocation List) because IRS records do not identify them as churches, but rather as some other type of organization that has an annual filing requirement. Because these organizations failed to file annual returns or notices for three consecutive years, they appear on the Auto-Revocation List.
While it shrunk the number of nonprofits on the IRS’ list by 17 percent, it certainly did not reduce the number of nonprofits by 17 percent since most of the 275,000 organizations were apparently non-existent for many years. The IRS indicated about one-quarter of the 275,000 received tax exemptions before 1980 and many simply stopped operating without telling the IRS.
Until a change in federal law in 2006, only organizations other than churches with annual revenue of $25,000 or more — roughly one-third of the 1.6 million nonprofit groups — were required to file.