Bingo games regularly run by paid employes of churches are now exempt from taxation, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
The agency announced that under a change in the federal tax law made last October, income from bingo games regularly run by paid employes is tax-exempt if the games are operated in accordance with state and local laws and are not in competition with profit-making bengo operations.
In making the announcement, the IRS said churches must pay taxes on income from activities that are unrelated to the religious purposes of the churches if they are carried on regularly.
Occasional Commercial activities, however may be exempt.
The IRS said that income from a sandwich stand operated by a church for one week at a county fair would not be taxed. And income from such things as the sale of religious publications or operation of a church school would be exempt because it would be considered related to the exempt purposes of the churches.
Money obtained from commuters paying church parking lot fees would be considered unrelated and taxable, as would income from a grocery or other business owned and operated by a church.
In some cases, a particular operation may fall into both categories, depending on the sources of its income.
As an example, the IRS cited the operation of a snack bar in a church school that is primarily used by students and staff but also regularly patronized by the public. The income received from the students and staff is not taxable since the snack bar is for their cinvenience, but the portion of the income received from the public is taxable.
Churches receiving gross income of $1,000 or more from unrelated businesses must report the income to the IRS using Form 990-T, "Exempt Organization Business Income Tax Return," available at IRB offices.