Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/Missionary support


QUESTION: Hi Mr. Stancil,

I read a previous response you had posted ( and was interested in finding out more about how I might be able to form a tax-exempt organization as an individual.  I recently entered into the missions field and am trying to figure out all the things that I need to do legally speaking, so that I nor my family do not face any tax-related issues in the future.

Sorry if this is beyond the information you are responsible for providing.  Thank you for your time and for all your help!


Danny Mun

ANSWER: Danny,

Thanks for your question.

It is a drawn-out process with several options along the way.  All I can do here is just give you the big overview.

First you need to form a organization.  It is preferable (mandatory in some cases) that you organize as a corporation that is established as a non profit.  This would be done in your state with the state office that handles corporate formation, usually the Secretary of State or an division within that office.

Once you have received your corporate charter as a non profit, you can then apply to the IRS on Form 1023 to obtain tax exempt status. This will enable you to accept contributions that are not income to you and contributions that are tax deductible to the donors.

Then you operate your mission organization through the corporation, paying yourself a salary.  The organization can reimburse your for expenses incurred under an accountable plan and the reimbursements would not be taxable.

Hope this helps.

John Stancil, CPA

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Mr. Stancil,

Okay, so I guess this would apply if I was building a "mission" like an orphanage or something along those lines?

What if I am a full-time "volunteer" on the basis that my living expenses are taken care of by individual sponsors / donors or through donations from my church?  Would I still have to file for taxes or form a tax-exempt org?

Sorry for all the questions!




If you are a volunteer you aren't receiving a salary.  Any expenses that you incur that were not reimbursed would be charitable contributions on Schedule A.

However, if your expenses are not being paid as a part of an accountable reimbursable, plan, they are most likely income to you and you would have to report the income.

If it is just you and your are volunteering you don't need an organization.

John Stancil, CPA  

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John Stancil, CPA


I can answer questions on personal income taxes, partnerships, and some corporate income taxes. I can deal with some state tax questions. Limited gift and estate tax questions. I am also familiar with ministerial and church tax reporting issues. I am Professor Emeritus at Florida Southern College. Sales taxes and property taxes are state and local issues so I am not likely be be able to give you an in depth answer on those types of taxes. I have maintained a CPA practice, specializing in tax, for over 35 years. I am a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, The Florida Insititute of CPA's, The NCPE Fellowship. In addition I am a Certified Mentor for SCORE. Visit my website at I also offer seminars and consultations to churches and clergy on their tax issues at Also visit my blog, I am listed on Tax Connections at Prepare and file your own taxes at


I hold a doctorate in Accounting, and am a CPA. My certifications of CIA, CFM, and CMA are inactive. I passed all certification examinations on the first attempt, and received honorable mention for my scores on the CIA exam. I have operated a CPA firm for over 37 years and have taught accounting and tax at the college level for over 35 years.

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The CPA Journal, Florida CPA Today, Green Consumer, Green Business, Global Sustainability as a Business Imperative, Palmetto Review, NATP TaxPro Quarterly, Mustang Journal of Finance and Accounting.

DBA University of Memphis MBA University of Georgia BS in Accounting Mars Hill University

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