Do churches tend to make their financial statements public?


Quick Answer

Most churches do make their general financial statements available to the public. All non-profits, which include most churches, are legally required to publish their financial statements in order to maintain their tax-exempt status.

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Full Answer

Most churches only make a general statement available to the public. Detailed financial records may be made available to members if allowed by the church charter or if local laws require it. However, some churches may protect those detailed records and only release them if legally compelled.

Many churches in the United States are registered as 501(c)3 nonprofits with the Internal Revenue Service, which means they do have an obligation to report their finances. They may not be required to itemize every expenditure, but they must make their budgets public or risk being penalized by the IRS. Churches that have not filed for non-profit or tax-exempt status may not be subject to the same requirements, although providing a budget to all members is still a common practice.

Non-profit churches generally file Form 990 with the IRS to fulfill their reporting obligations. There are several variations of Form 990, including several short-form versions for smaller organizations. In most cases the reporting requirements are determined by the size of the organizations. Larger non-profits with a bigger budget have more detailed reporting requirements than smaller ones.

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