Church Planter Resources
We understand that getting the necessary legal documentation for your church plant to be released as an official Vineyard church can be difficult. We’ve tried to make it easier for you. These resources are designed to provide you with samples and information that you will need to complete to become a Vineyard church. This is not a substitute for legal advice, and we are not rendering legal advice. Rather, we are providing you with information and samples that we have seen work in certain circumstances. It is important that you review laws that apply in your state, and ensure that the final documents you use comply with applicable law. The documents we are providing are not intended to be used “as-is” and may require substantive changes.
Articles of Incorporation
The Articles of Incorporation, as they are commonly known, are required in most states. This document is usually the first step in forming your legal entity with the state in which your church operates. Download a sample here.
Tax ID Number (EIN)
After the Articles of Incorporation are filed, you may need a federal tax ID number, often known as an EIN. You may file for an EIN on the IRS website.
Bylaws are the operational rules for the corporation. These are not usually submitted to the state, but instead are maintained in the corporation’s minute book. Download a sample here.
Church Planter Insurance Information
This list can help you choose the best insurance for your plant.
Tax Exempt Status (Federal)
Churches are typically automatically exempt from taxes and are not required to file any paperwork to confirm their tax exempt status. However, there are many reasons why a church may wish to confirm its tax-exempt status by securing specific exemption through the IRS. Historically, this was a very expensive and time-consuming process. Unfortunately, the 1023-EZ form does not qualify for churches due to additional attached paperwork that is required for churches. Multiply Vineyard is unable to provide legal counsel. Please connect with another church in your area or your church’s legal advisor. Here is some information from the IRS on their website.
Tax Exempt Status (State)
State tax exempt status is typically processed through the applicable state franchise tax board or equivalent. Many states offer two methods to secure tax exempt status: (a) a formal application prior to receipt of a federal tax exempt status determination letter; or (b) a simple application/process after receipt of a federal tax exempt status determination letter. Because the process is more simple after receipt of the federal tax exempt status determination letter, many churches opt to wait for such letter prior to requesting tax exempt status through the state. In California, for example, the form and process is described on the Franchise Tax Board website. You should research your state requirements for tax exempt status and complete the necessary application according to the instructions provided.
Clergy Advantage Resources
Clergy Advantage provides tax consulting and preparation, retirement planning and housing allowance services for pastors. For more information on Clergy Advantage, visit their website.
Copyright Information for churches
Many religious organizations struggle with understanding how Fair Use works in the context of videos, images, music, and other copyrights. This video discusses the basic information necessary to understand the framework for Fair Use under US copyright law in the United States
This video is part one of a ten-part video series for pastors, media directors, worship leaders, songwriters, worship art departments and anyone else who needs to learn about copyright in the church context.
Basic Legal Issues
This video tutorial is designed for Vineyard USA church planters to provide them with basic information about the legal issues in planting a church.