Copyright © March 17, 2020
The Churches under Christ Ministry helps churches with all matters related to the church irrevocable common law trust agreement. This type of trust is also in conformity to Bible principles of trust. See, EN [i]. For example, the ministry advises trustees as they open trust bank accounts. Once a church executes proper trust documents, and the trust relationship is up and running, the trustee of the trust usually opens a trust bank account (not a church bank account) in which to hold God’s money. More and more, banks are refusing to open the accounts without an Employee Identification Number.
Does obtaining an EIN compromise the status of the church and trust as non-legal entities? The answer is, “No, absolutely not, if properly done.” This is true for the church, because the church is not the trust and the trust is not the church. Once the church establishes the irrevocable common law trust, everything placed in the trust estate is thereafter the property of the Lord Jesus Christ, not the property of the church. The Lord Jesus Christ, not the church, is the owner of the trust estate. All this, and much more, is made clear in the documents by which the church (not the state or the church and the state) establishes the trust.
An EIN can be obtained by the trustee “for banking purposes only.” Why? Because the church has established a common law trust, a private matter which is need not be filed with or approved by the state. The church has not organized as a trust and has not contracted with the state to become a legal entity. Remember, the church common law trust is merely a relationship with property, not a legal entity. This EIN, obtained “for banking purposes only,” does not compromise the non-legal status of the trust.
A charitable trust, a business trust, or any trust which is established in accordance with a law of civil government, man’s law, cannot get an EIN for banking purposes only. Such a trust is a legal entity. When a church contracts with the state according to the terms of state charitable or business trust law, the church, in organizing as a trust, becomes an earthly legal entity.
Practically, how does a trustee of a church common law trust agreement open a bank account? The trustee tells the bank that he wants to open a trust bank account. He gives the bank a copy of the executed Resolution to Adopt the Declaration of Trust and Declaration of Trust. Those documents, if properly drafted and executed, lay out all the details of the trust relationship including: the Bible principles, the common law of trust, and the highest American law, the First Amendment religion clause, which protects freedom of religion from civil government control for those churches under Christ who reject any type of legal status under laws which allow churches to contract with civil government for corporate (sole or aggregate), charitable trust, business trust, and/or tax exempt (under Internal Revenue Code Sections 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A)), status. Usually, the banker will submit the documents to the bank legal representatives for an opinion. The legal department reviews the documents and tells the bank that everything is in order.
After the bank agrees to open the account, the trustee can give the bank either his social security number, if the bank will accept it, or an EIN. Should the bank require an EIN, or should the trustee prefer to use an EIN rather than his social security number to identify the bank account, the trustee obtains an EIN “for banking purposes only.” To apply for the EIN “for banking purposes only,” the trustee of the trust should properly fill out and submit Form SS-4. See EN [ii]. Once the identifying number for banking purposes only is given to the bank, the bank opens the trust banking account. This ministry has a line by line PowerPoint that presents a line by line guide on how to fill out the SS-4.
Sometimes banks will open the account using the trustee’s social security number. A bank in Massachusetts insisted on the use of the trustee’s social security number. Some banks insist upon an EIN. In either case, every trustee has been able to open a trust checking account with the “for banking purposes only” identifying number: either the trustee’s social security number or an EIN. The trustee makes sure that the account is not classified as a “dba” account.
In the majority of cases where churches have established a common law trust and the trustee has applied and been assigned an EIN “for banking purposes only,” the Internal Revenue Service has come into the picture. However, the IRS has contacted three trustees who have established the common law trust relationship and informed the them that they have to submit Form 1041 to the IRS. This ministry has contacted the IRS on behalf of those trustees and explained why their concern that Form 1041 be submitted is unfounded. In all three cases, that ended the matter without further action.
The first time this happened was in 2017. The church executed trust documents, applied for a trust banking account, obtained an EIN “for banking purposes only.” The bank opened the account. In applying for the EIN, the trustee did not correctly fill out Form SS-4. The IRS wrote the trustee and asserted that he had to file Form 1041 each year. I wrote the IRS, and the trustee did not have any future problems arise on the matter. That ended it.
The second instance occurred in 2019. The trustee correctly filled out Form SS-4; but the IRS nonetheless informed him that he had to submit Form 1041 each year. I wrote the IRS, in January, 2020, and that ended the matter. Click here to see that letter, without identifiers, to the IRS.
The third time occurred in 2019. In that case, the trustee probably incorrectly filled out Form SS-4. He did not keep a copy of the Form. I wrote the IRS. See the letter by clicking here.
See EN [iii] for links to copies of the above three letters, without identifiers. Each letter points out to the IRS that the trust is a common law trust, not a legal entity such as a charitable or business trust. IRS regulations regarding “trusts” are applicable to legal entities which include charitable and business trusts, not to the common law non-legal entity trust. These and other facts can be ascertained by anyone who has the minimum of expertise in legal research. The letters also point out that the church is the creator of the trust, that the trustee of the trust has a duty to manage the trust estate solely for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true owner of the trust estate, that the church does not have 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status, and other such matters.
In short, the three letters to the IRS linked to above explain the basics of the common law trust relationship. This is solid proof that churches in America can, without persecution, openly do things God’s way; and proclaim to the world—both religious (including misled “Bible believing” Baptists) and secular (including the federal government and its agency, the Internal Revenue Service):
- That they are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions;
- The true history and meaning of the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions; See, EN [iv].
- That they can, without fear, apply and proclaim some of God’s important truths concerning the local church, the God-desired relationship between church and state, and other matters to the world;
- That they remain under Christ and Christ alone, in accord with New Testament Church doctrine and the First Amendment;
- That, as churches under Christ alone, they are not subject to any man made law such as laws creating corporations, charitable trusts, business trusts, federal tax exemption laws (Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exemption law and the rules and regulations which come with that status);
- That correctly establishing a common law trust does not subject either the church which does so, or the trust relationship established by the church, to the jurisdiction of civil government or any government agency such as the IRS;
- That, as churches under Christ alone, they are under the sole authority of the Lord Jesus Christ;
- That churches can still be a light to the world as they do things God’s way, as opposed to compromising and adopting the dark methods used by churches who have abandoned their duty to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (En [v]), in this case the mystery of the church (EN [vi]).
These matters are practiced fact, not unproven theory or speculation; just as is the fact that real estate used for a church meetinghouse can be owned by, and titled in the name of, the Lord Jesus Christ, the owner of the trust estate. A remnant of churches in America prove the assertions in this article.
According to God’s word, the goal of believers and churches is to glorify God. What matter can be more important, for a local assembly of believers, than honoring the sole authority of Christ over His churches? As stewards of the mystery of the local church, can you and the church you attend be found faithful? The truth, when explained, need not be argued about with “them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
[ii] This ministry has a PowerPoint that explains, from the information of Form SS-4 and in the Instructions on Form SS-4, how one may obtain an EIN “for banking purposes only” and, line by line, how to fill out the Form SS-4 “for banking purposes only.” Click here to go to an online PDF of Form SS-4; Click here to go to an online form for the Instructions for Form SS-4.
[v] 1 Corinthians 4:1-2: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
[vi] Ephesians 3:1-12 (These verses reveal the mystery of the local body, the local church, the local assembly of believers who choose to remain under Christ and Christ alone.): “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”