Frequently Asked Questions

Who do I contact to obtain a marriage license?

Usually the state laws provide any recognized member of the clergy (such as a Priest, Minister, Rabbi, Imam, Cantor, Ethical Culture Leader, etc.) or a judge, a court clerk, and justices of the peace have authority to perform a marriage. However, in some states, even the clergy must be first certified or licensed.
In the United States, certain states and some counties have guidelines for ministers who want to perform marriages. You can find specifics for each state at US Marriage Laws.
For local areas, you can find general information below:
In the state of Virginia, all those interested in performing marriages in the state must register in their circuit court. Call the clerk's office for specific instructions.
The requirements may vary by county; please see the following links:
General Virginia Information
Fairfax County
Fauquier County
Prince William County
In the District of Columbia ordained ministers of the gospel may perform marriages. Marriage licenses are addressed to the minister who will perform the ceremony. The minister must complete a marriage certificate for the bride and for the groom and return another certificate to the clerk of the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions within 10 days after the marriage. Click on the link above for an application.
In Maryland, any adult can sign as clergy, as long as the couple who are getting married agree that he is a clergy. The celebrant doesn't have to be a resident, register in advance, or fulfill any other requirements.

What are the steps to Incorporating our Church?

There are certain requirements to incorporating a church.
On April 15, 2002, the United States District Court struck down the portion of the Constitution of Virginia that barred churches in the state from incorporating. There are several benefits gained by allowing a church in Virginia to incorporate. Most importantly, incorporation will substantially limit liability of the Pastor(s), Board, and members.
The following documents are available to assist Virginia churches in the incorporation process:
Church Incorporation Article by lawyer H. Robert Showers, Esq., that summarizes the history of the ban on incorporation of churches in Virginia, the overturn of that ban, and the process for incorporation now.
A House on a Solid Rock or A House of Cards? by Justin R. Coleman, Esq., an article that explains why proper incorporation in Virginia or any state is more than simply filing articles of incorporation with the state.
Steps for Church Incorporation from Simms Showers LLP.
Pre-incorporation Questionnaire & Retainer for churches that H. Robert Showers has put together to assist a church considering incorporation in gathering information needed, plus a retainer and fee breakdown if a church would like to use Mr. Showers' legal services.
H. Robert Showers is a lawyer recommended for this service to NorthStar churches. Please read H. Robert Showers bio for additional information. Also visit Simms Showers LLP on the web at www.simmsshowers.com.

Where can I obtain copies of Tax Exemption Forms?

These forms are for use by churches, religious associations, or denominations, or their duly designated ministers, ecclesiastical officers, or trustees.
Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Exemption (for Churches)
Sales and Use Tax Exemptions for Nonprofit Organizations

Where can I obtain a copy of the Minister's Tax Guide?

This information is from the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The guide focuses on tax issues most likely to affect Southern Baptist ministers and includes sample tax returns for both active and retired ministers. The guide's special section about important federal requirements for churches is a valuable resource for church treasurers and other church leaders.
Many ministers and church leaders do not understand the special tax rules that apply to clergy. The guide explains how those rules work. It also explains how churches can structure ministers' pay to help them keep more of their income.
To download the Ministers Tax Guide, click here or go to GuideStone's website for more information.
Also visit the IRS online - irs.gov for their publication #1828, "Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations."

What are the standard mileage rates for this year?

In 2022, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) are:
• 58.5 cents per mile driven for business use
• 18 cents per mile driven for medical, or moving purposes for qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces
• 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
The standard mileage rate for business use is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.
Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.
More information.

How can I obtain Background Checks for workers in our church?

The Virginia State Police website has up-to-date information regarding all aspects of law enforcement. Here you will find links to the most current forms available and necessary to request a Background Check on a perspective employee or volunteer.
Please visit the Virginia State Police website for further details.
More background check resources:
Background Investigation Bureau Secure Volunteer
Protect My Ministry
Ministry Safe
Church Staffing