For Immediate Release - December 29, 2011

AG Coakley Unveils Proposed Amendments to Regulations Governing Religious Charities

Amendments to clarify which religious organizations are required to register and submit annual filings with the AG’s Office

BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office unveiled amendments to governing the registration and filing requirements for certain religious organizations that are also public charities.  The regulations will simplify which religious organizations are required to register and submit annual filings with the Attorney General’s Office.

The proposed amendments to the current regulations were filed on December 9, 2011 with the Secretary of State’s Office and were published in the Massachusetts Register on December 23, 2011.  The amendments are expected to become effective in early 2012 after a on January 10, 2012 conducted by the AG’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division. 

The proposed changes would clarify that, in general, exemptions from the state’s registration and filing requirements will parallel exemptions from similar federal filing requirements granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to certain religious organizations.  Consistent with the language contained in the relevant federal Treasury Regulation, with which these organizations must also comply, the Attorney General’s Office will waive its registration and filing requirements if an organization has received or is eligible for an exemption from filing Form 990 information returns with the IRS on the basis that it is a church; an integrated auxiliary of a church; an exclusively religious activity of any religious order; or a mission society sponsored by or affiliated with a church, or if more than half of the organizations activities are conducted in or directed at foreign countries.  By remaining consistent with the federal requirements, it will be easier for Massachusetts religious organizations to determine whether they should be registered and filing with the Attorney General’s Office.

Copies of the revised regulations are available on the Attorney General's website at www.mass.gov/ago/regulations.

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