Nonprofit Law/Religious Status


Hi, I'm curious to know if a 501c3 registered as non-religious can, in the future, switch to being religious?  Also, for organizations that have branches in several countries, must their religious status be the same in all countries? Thank you.

I have in my profile that this free forum is only for general questions relating to IRS federal exemption issues of 501(c)(3) organizations. The IRS allows for such a switch from non-religious to religious.

If you have substantial changes in your mode of operation, you
would want to notify the IRS. Exempt organizations' determination
letters state that if its mode of operation changes it should
notify the IRS of the change so that the IRS can determine the
effect on its exempt status. You can see that standard notification
on page 2 in the sample determination letter at:
under the heading "Notify Us On These Matters".

Notice would go to:

Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 2508
Cincinnati, OH 45301

We see there, "If you amend your organizational document or by-
laws, or dissolve your organization, provide the Customer Account
Services Office with a copy of the amended documents."

If you do not advise the IRS of the change and or if they do not
approve the change and then, they later find that your organization
is not worthy of 501(c)(3) organization status for a year that they
audit, they may then revoke your exemption retroactively back to
the date of your change. But you do not need to wait for the IRS
approval of the change if you are satisfied that your activities
are religious activities within the meaning of the Code.

Your issue is also controlled by state law and states may differ somewhat with how they would treat such issues. You wrote from India, but I am assuming you are referring to a U.S. 501(c)(3) organization.

Harvey Mechanic, Attorney at Law -

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.  

Nonprofit Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Harvey Mechanic


I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

©2016 All rights reserved.