Worship musicians gear tax free?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by osv, Apr 12, 2017.

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  1. osv


    Dec 1, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    A friend of mine was at Guitar Center and was standing next to a guy buying a Les Paul. The guy mentioned something about being tax exempt and produced a card of some sort.

    My friend started a conversation with the guy and found out that he is a worship musician. Apparently, he his able to spend $15,000 annually (sales tax exempt) on his gear?

    I don't know how accurate the details of my friends account is, but if true, it sounds like quite the scam to me.

    Can some of you worship musicians out there comment on this?
    azfatboy likes this.
  2. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Yes, churches are exempt!

    This thread will probably be short-lived...
  3. osv


    Dec 1, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    I know that churches are tax exempt, but I never even considered the gear of worship musicians.

    I have a feelng this thread will be deleted, but I'm truly curious.
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    If he's buying it for the church it might be tax exempt.
  5. Churches are not automatically tax exempt, they need to apply and receive approval for that status. And only authorized church representatives can use that exemption, so it would be a position of authority (pastor, worship leader, etc.). They have to produce a tax exempt ID number. And like @brianrost said, it has to be something owned and directly used by the church. Lots of parameters of accepted use are in place.
  6. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I know at my aunt's church they have one guy who is in charge of all the gear. He is their authorized rep. to go out & buy gear (or buy it online). Most of the gear stays in the cathedral, but some of the stuff goes home with the performers, so they can practice.
    Lvjoebass likes this.
  7. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Well, it is a church, so....
  8. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    DOH!, here we go!
  9. ...and let the immature cheap shots directed at people of faith and their institutions begin. It should guarantee a lock.
    GregC, Rayjay, andruca and 5 others like this.
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The thread will only be deleted if....stuff.....like this keeps happening and.....people.....like this can't find any impulse control. :thumbsup:

    @osv , if you don't want the thread deleted, and you want to have a conversation about the LEGAL merits of a text exempt ID number, perhaps you should remove accusations of it being a "scam" from your OP. :thumbsup:

    If everyone puts on big boy pants we can talk it out.

    You have to apply to the IRS as a non profit. If the guy is using the LesPaul at 75 bar gigs this year, he is gaming the system. If he is only playing at church and not making a PROFIT from the use of the guitar, then, according to the IRS, that guitar is no different from a church van, a box of pens, or copy toner. It's a supply or a tool that is an EXPENSE and brings no PROFIT, so it is, in fact, tax exempt.

    The same holds true for the Red Cross, Cancer Society, political organizations, etc.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
    Lvjoebass, andruca, TheBear and 11 others like this.
  11. osv


    Dec 1, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    To me, in this case, it sounds like he is buying his own pesonal property (a Les Paul). This guy also said he plays at various churches, and I'm speculating, makes good money doing that it.
  12. Many non-profits that qualify for tax exempt status, not just churches, have paid staff. This is not unusual in the least.

    But you're making your skepticism and disapproval of this specific institution pretty clear, so keep poking that bear. You'll wake it up eventually.

    I'll be the first to call troll.
  13. osv


    Dec 1, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Perhaps the system is being gamed in this instance. I just wanted to know if this is a normal occurrence, or if this is really questionable.
    In full disclosure, I don't agree with churches being tax exempt in the first place. I just wanted to know how far the exemption could be stretched. Legally.
  14. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    He had to be using a tax ID number. You can't just whip out a homemade business card that reads "No, really, I work for a church." the card he whipped out had the tax ID number on it or they wouldn't have removed the sales tax.

    So, clearly, he is AUTHORIZED to whip out the card. Some non profit has given him the authority to use the ID number.

    You are making assumptions of facts not in evidence.
  15. osv


    Dec 1, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thank you Two Fingers. Like I said, I was not there or talked to the person myself. I only know what was told to me by my friend.
    I do sincerely appreciate your input in this.
  16. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Inactive Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Yeah, based on the rant I was queuing up - you are right.
    ThuzzleFump and Killed_by_Death like this.
  17. geowis

    geowis Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2011
    Hopewell, NJ
    Just buy online, if the online retailer doesn't have a brick and mortar store in your state they usually don't charge sales tax.
    sears and Killed_by_Death like this.
  18. I delt with this all the time at Daddy's. Churches are tax exempt and equipment purchased for use inside a church is exempt from sales tax. The church HAS to have registered with that state to be a tax-exempt entity. A Massachusetts church cannot produce a MA tax exempt license here in RI, they must use a RI one.

    While most people who present these are honest and they are just trying to buy gear for their worship team, there are members who abuse the system. I had a guy come in WEEKLY to buy keyboards. All Korg stuff. He would always produce a tax exempt for some little store front church (I swear the guy purchased at least 20 off me). Turns out he was selling them to places overseas.

    I had another holy roller come in and was very boisterous. He wanted a Peavey half-stack. He shouted in his best southern preacher voice (like he was giving a sermon) "THE LORD NEEDS A PEAVEY HALFSTACK! WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR THE LORD!!"... I chuckled and my manager just turned to him and in a matter of fact tone said "If the Lord wanted you to have a Peavey half stack, the Lord would provide you the means to pay retail".

    Otherwise churches were good business for us. Lots of PA gear, alot of it used and most small churches can't really afford much. Sold a few big systems to some big places and they dropped some serious $$$.

    But otherwise yes. The guy was probably the pastor of the church and he was tax exempt.
  19. My worship band leader will buy things for the worship team and claim the tax exempt status. But it is clear to all involved that the items belong to the church, not to him or to whatever other member of the worship team that happens to play the purchased item. I.e., if I move away, I don't get to take the cymbals with me.
  20. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    OK, as an unpaid P&W musician who pays taxes on every piece of gear, even I have to admit your manager's answer was priceless.

    (Never mind that whatever deity that "preacher" was working for probably rolled its eyes hearing that the deity needed a Peavey half stack. A Mesa, Ampeg or Marshall maybe. But I wouldn't serve a God that "needs" a Peavey.  :D )

    Relax. God has a sense of humor. Have you seen a platypus?
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017

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