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Nonprofit Law/NonProfit California Church Name Change


Hi Harvey,

First, thanks very much for providing a site like this.  My father is a pastor of a church in California that basically has no members anymore, but the church is still active and SOI (SI-100) is filed every two years.  He is listed as the CEO, my mother as the secretary and myself as the CFO.  We are the only members left.  I'm fairly certain we have a tax exemption as we have not paid any taxes ever since for over 15 years.

We need to change the name of the church and I wanted to confirm the steps.  I did some research and it seems like first step is to file the "Amendment of California Nonprofit Corporations."  On this form, it states to list the correct designation, but I don't what this is.  Can I simply write a note that all we want to do is change the name of the organization and everything else remains the same?  We are the only members left and approvals and voting is in favor of this change.

Once this is filed, do we need to file anything on a county level?  What are the next steps?

Thanks again for your time!

You are welcome.

Changing the name of a California Religious Corporation can be done with the instructions from the California Secretary of State which is available at

However, from what you informed me, the organization no longer qualifies as a church, because a church needs to have a congregation of unrelated persons. Therefore, you may want to reconsider just changing the name.  If you do change your name in the articles of incorporation then you would then amend your bylaws to show the change of name. Then an officer would send a letter to the IRS along with a copy of
the state name change registration to request an updated exemption determination letter.  There is no charge by the IRS for such an
updated letter. Their instructions are:

--- Start of Excerpt ---
To obtain a determination letter that applies the principles and
precedents previously announced to a specific set of facts, or to
transmit copies of amended documents write or fax to:

       Internal Revenue Service
       Exempt Organizations Determinations
       Room 4024
       P.O. Box 2508
       Cincinnati, OH 45201

       Fax: (855) 204-6184
--- End of Excerpt ---

I have in my profile that this free forum is only for general questions about IRS federal exemption issues of 501(c)(3) organizations.  I did not mind giving you some general federal and state information, but if you do want to reconsider your decision to only change the name, then I would need to spend a substantial amount of time.  If you want to hire me for such work, send me an email directly to my email address below and I will quote you my fees.

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. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather more information.

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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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