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Nonprofit Law/may a church form in the U.S. if all services are conducted outside of the U.S.?


May a church form in the U.S. and receive an EIN as a church if all services occur in a foreign nation? The purpose for forming in the U.S. would be to obtain a bank account and provide tax-deductible receipts to anyone in the U.S. that might want to contribute. I am assuming the answer is no since there would be no physical congregation in the U.S. but thought I would ask to confirm. Thank you.

See the IRS publication at for
details about international grants to and international activities
of U.S. exempt organizations, and, especially page 3-4 about grants
to foreign organizations starting on page 3 at "Deductibility -
Control Rules".

The church in Honduras is a foreign organization and, the U.S. nonprofit could possibly be structured to have church status, but it would not be in the way that most church organizations are classified.  As to charitable deductions, see IRS Publication 526 "Charitable
Donations"  which is available at:
see the middle column at the top of page two
---start of excerpt  ---
Deductible As
Charitable Contributions
Money or property you give to:
• Churches, synagogues, temples,
mosques, and other religious
--end of excerpt  ---

As to the organization,  see the IRS Publication 557 "Tax Exempt Status for Your
Organization" at:
in the right column on page 25 under "Organizations Not Required to File Form 1023" discusses who does not need to file and among those is "• Churches, interchurch organizations of local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group.  These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of
section 501(c)(3)."

Thus a mission society has the same treatment as a church building situated in the United States. I would be willing to work on your matter further, but I would need to spend a substantial amount of time in drafting documents and that would be beyond the scope of my offer of free services.  If you want to inquire about hiring me for such work, please contact me directly to the email address below.

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.  

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Harvey Mechanic


DO NOT GIVE ME INFORMATION THAT YOU WANT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. 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.

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