This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Does Directing Real Estate Commissions to a Church Constitute UBI?

Question from Jay, Does Directing Real Estate Commissions to a Church Constitute UBI?

Answer from AI:

When you’re involved in both running a nonprofit organization, such as a church, and earning income through a separate profession—in this case, as a real estate agent—questions about how to properly handle and classify income can arise. Specifically, you’re wondering if directing your real estate commissions directly to the church, using its Employer Identification Number (EIN), could be considered Unrelated Business Income (UBI) for the church. Understanding UBI and its implications is crucial for maintaining your church’s tax-exempt status under U.S. law.

Understanding Unrelated Business Income (UBI)

Unrelated Business Income is defined by the IRS as income from a trade or business, regularly carried on, that is not substantially related to the charitable, educational, or other purpose that is the basis of the organization’s exemption. UBI is subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) if it meets these criteria.

Key Considerations for Your Situation

1. Nature of the Income: The first question is whether the real estate commissions you earn and then donate to the church are considered income from a trade or business that is regularly carried on. Since real estate sales can be seen as a business activity, this condition might be met.

2. Relation to Charitable Purpose: The second question is whether this activity is substantially related to the church’s exempt purpose. Generally, unless the real estate activities are directly connected to your church’s religious or charitable mission, they might be seen as unrelated.

3. Direct Donation of Income: Directing the income to the church using its EIN does not automatically classify the income as a donation. The IRS might still view it as UBI since it originates from an activity that is not substantially related to the church’s exempt purposes.

Implications of UBI for Your Church

If the IRS determines that the commissions are UBI, your church may be required to file Form 990-T and potentially pay taxes on this income. It’s important to note that having UBI does not inherently jeopardize your church’s tax-exempt status, but failing to properly report and pay taxes on it can.

Steps to Take

Given the complexity of tax laws and the potential implications for your church, consider the following steps:

  1. Consult a Tax Professional: A tax advisor with experience in nonprofit tax law can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.
  2. Review IRS Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with the IRS’s rules on UBI, which can be found in their Unrelated Business Income Tax section.
  3. Consider Alternative Arrangements: If advised by a tax professional, you might explore other ways to support your church financially that minimize the risk of generating UBI.


While your intention to support your church through your real estate commissions is commendable, it’s essential to ensure that this arrangement does not inadvertently lead to tax complications for the church. Since the determination of UBI can be complex and depends on specific details of each case, seeking personalized advice from a tax professional is strongly recommended to navigate these issues effectively.

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