Internal Revenue Code Section (IRC Sec.) 6104 has established the guidelines by which all tax-exempt organizations classified as “public charities” are required to make certain information available for inspection by the general public. Since all religious organizations, including churches, denominations, and associations of churches fall within this category this means your ministry is subject to the guidelines.
Though the Guidelines speak to a number of required disclosures, for most churches and ministries, the mandatory disclosure documents generally include: the organizations’ information returns as reported to the IRS (e.g. Annual Informational Return (Form 990) [if applicable], your application for exemption from income tax (e.g. Form 1023 or Form 1024) along with copies of any papers submitted in support of the above returns or application, and/or documents issued by the IRS with respect to the application or return.
The Notice also sets the guidelines for when the information must be available and when you are required to provide copies to any public inquirer.
The Pension Protection Act of 2006 amended section 6104(d)(1)(A)(ii) of the tax code and now requires organizations to also make available for inspection and copying, information on any unrelated business activity the organization may be required to report to the IRS by including in their disclosure binder copies of the latest three years filings (e.g. Form 990-T).
To meet these disclosure requirements, we suggest that you develop a binder (paper or otherwise) that contains all required disclosure information and that it be updated annually. Besides the required documents, there are several other items we suggest you include in the binder to help give the inquirer the feeling that you are being totally open.
A list of these “recommended” or “suggested” items are noted in the list below. The “required” items, however, are the bare minimum that must be available.