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Good evening my fellow ministers!

 

My name is David, this is my very first post, I'm excited to be here!

 

My question relates to forming a church/ministry and I'd appreciate your opinion regarding my situation.

 

I'd like to have an online Ministry, I am a student/teacher of the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles and my heart and mind keep revolving around my desire to hold a space to disseminate the teachings, that was the main motivation in becoming ordained. However. I'm uncertain as to how to proceed since I feel the best way for me to minister is online, I'm a millennial and I have a bit of an audience on social media, and would like to make weekly video 'services' now the only reason I'd like to form a church or ministry is to have the ability to receive tithes/donations without getting in trouble with the law...

 

So my question and issue becomes, what is the best way to proceed? Accept donations and cite them in my personal tax returns? Or form an organization? I don't expect the contributions to be enough to even cover the cost of the website but I just want to do things the right way I'm just uncertain of what the right way is given my circumstances.

 

All of your help would be greatly appreciated, thanking you in advance and God bless you.

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Amulet   

Hi David, welcome! Excited to have you here!

 

ACIM ...Great course of study and your aspirations are wonderful!

 

There are so many directions to go... I think really one of the best ways is to go the route of creating a SMART Goals 'business plan', then the path for how to proceed will become more clear as the plan develops. Not meaning to sideline your actual question. ...Just that without knowing what is set up in your SMART Goals setup makes an answer about "how-to" a bit vague at this point. We don't know if you plan to include courses, lectures etc. Any thoughts about what you would like to include as part of your ministry work? Hopefully others will share some experiences.
 

Again welcome, and I look forward to reading your next posts here! 

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Thank you so much for your prompt response Amulet!

 

I'd basically just like to offer weekly lectures based on ACIM and free spiritual counseling, not really a business but I think if people find that a valuable resource they might want to donate... And I wouldn't know if that would just be income or if it should be reported as something else... Hence my conflict again, if I announce myself as a minister will I then be expected to be a church... Or can I just be a minister who accepts donations based on the free services I provide and count that as income :S

 

I guess I could just be a 'content Creator' with a donate button like everyone else on YouTube ?

 

Edited by MiracleThink

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Amulet   

For this, I believe it is a matter of personal choice and tailoring what fits best. Especially on the internet.

 

You can be any combination of all of the above. If you announce yourself as a minister it is known you are ordained by a church.IMO, I don't think it is expected that you are your own church. More like; an extension of a church, until or unless you claim to be your own church.

 

Personally (and it is not legal advice) to start, I would go with being a content creator with a donate button placed in support of continuing to be of service ministering your teachings, but that's how I would do it unless my goal was to truly make it a full time profession. When your channel has enough content the monetization options and other things that come into play will have you revisit how to go forward from there. As for how to handle reporting for taxes etc., I believe in this case, typically it goes in as "other" income on a general tax return. To claim it another way (with write-offs for example or to claim tax-free status) it would require a permit that you are operating as an entity.

 

You can be your own congregation under ULC with a permit(?) from ULCHQ I think it is $35 annually As your own church under ULC you will be required to fill out paperwork about congregation attendance and may offer tax exempt status. Or you can be your own church separate of ULC a whole different way and fill out the 5013c forms for your state and fulfill their requirements, etc.

 

Since you are doing ACIM are you concurrently doing the Dr. of Metaphysics course from the bookstore? They are done together for the degree!

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AmberLF   
10 hours ago, MiracleThink said:

Good evening my fellow ministers!

 

My name is David, this is my very first post, I'm excited to be here!

 

My question relates to forming a church/ministry and I'd appreciate your opinion regarding my situation.

 

I'd like to have an online Ministry, I am a student/teacher of the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles and my heart and mind keep revolving around my desire to hold a space to disseminate the teachings, that was the main motivation in becoming ordained. However. I'm uncertain as to how to proceed since I feel the best way for me to minister is online, I'm a millennial and I have a bit of an audience on social media, and would like to make weekly video 'services' now the only reason I'd like to form a church or ministry is to have the ability to receive tithes/donations without getting in trouble with the law...

 

So my question and issue becomes, what is the best way to proceed? Accept donations and cite them in my personal tax returns? Or form an organization? I don't expect the contributions to be enough to even cover the cost of the website but I just want to do things the right way I'm just uncertain of what the right way is given my circumstances.

 

All of your help would be greatly appreciated, thanking you in advance and God bless you.

I would think the best way to go about finding out would be to go through a lawyer to see if it's legally possible. You would likely have some loops to jump through and have charities and such lined up for such donations to go to... but seeing as how internet related things are nation and world wide, it would just be a good idea to make sure you have legal understanding and support.

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On 6/17/2017 at 10:02 AM, AmberLF said:

I would think the best way to go about finding out would be to go through a lawyer to see if it's legally possible. You would likely have some loops to jump through and have charities and such lined up for such donations to go to... but seeing as how internet related things are nation and world wide, it would just be a good idea to make sure you have legal understanding and support.

Greetings to you my brother,

 

For what you want to do, I would suggest two courses of action.  

 

You could form a legal church, either as a chartered congregation of the ULC or as a completely separate organization.   In all honesty,  I think you would find that would only complicate unnecessarily what you are trying to do, as it does not sound like this is going to be a big money maker.  My suggestion would be to claim whatever you received from your site at first in miscellaneous income on your tax return unless the income generated goes over $600 in a calendar year.  

 

Under this plan, people making donations to you would not be able to claim them as charitable contributions.  The amount tho is so meager that it wouldn't make an appreciable difference on anybody's return anyway.  Just be sure to point out on your site that the money donated is not tax deductible.

 

If the money received would start going over more then this very moderate amount, then you would have to make a decision on what

direction you really wanted to go.  Would you see yourself starting a church, or would you consider yourself to have an independent business, much like someone ordained by the ULC who primarily served as a wedding officiant?  That is a question you would have to answer, but right now IMHO you are really just beginning and don't have to make a decision at this point.  

 

One thing I would suggest, and that it to contact the local office of the IRS to request information on the tax laws regarding self-employed individuals.   I would also order the most recent edition of the Zondervan Church and Non Profit Tax and Financial Guide.    

 

I wish you good luck on your undertaking.

 

In solidarity,

Rev. Calli

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RevSam   

Your question is simple -- but the cool thing is, the options are many:

The first thing you need to consider: non-profit, or profit?  There's nothing wrong with making a living, particularly if its well understood that that's what you're doing.  But, there's nothing wrong with non-profit, either.  It's a noble, wonderful thing.   But, before you start putting pen to paper on organizing anything, particularly on a legal standpoint -- decide if you're going to be working and earning money, or if you're giving this away to people, in exchange for donations or something along those lines.  Get a clear dilineation of this up-front.

 

If you're only making a few bucks a year [like Rev. Calli above mentioned, <$600/yr], then just having it on your own tax returns is probably the easiest way to go.  If it's not "significant income," the IRS isn't going to complain too much.

Next option: form a single member LLC.  You get the advantages of a "trade name," and the ability to seperate out your funding, and gain some limited liability even -- but as a single member LLC, you still handle the taxation on your own personal taxes; and, again, as above, if it's only generating a few hundred dollars a year, you won't have a lot of problems when it comes to taxes and paying them.

If the project takes off, and really gains some altitude, consider starting an actual church; a non-profit or ecclesiastical corporation.  I would certainly discuss this with an attorney.   LegalShield in the States is an AWESOME resourcre for stuff like this.  This isn't hard to do, but now, you've got seperate financing, seperate taxes and now, you're answerable to the State and the Feds on how you conduct your own affairs -- whereas, in an LLC, you can pretty much run the show however you want, especially if you're looking to actually make a buck or two off the services you offer, as opposed to a non-profit.

You've certainly got options.  Good luck!   Keep us updated!

-- Rev. Samuel
Universal Life Church of Michigan 

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