Date: August 10, 2018 12:52PM
Many non-lawyers (especially ex-Mormon non-lawyers) get angry or indignant that the Mormon church is a one-owner corporation. There are a lot of things to criticize the church about, but this isn't one of them.
In order for any organization - church, club, business - to function in the legal system (own property, hire workers, make contracts) it must be a "legal entity." A natural person (adult) can do these things automatically, but not an organization.
All states have special laws by which such entities can become a "legal entity." Most states provide for partnerships, associations, corporations, and other types.
For a church, most states provide for a special form, usually called a "corporation sole." And most churches organize as a "corporation sole" and include the word "corporation" in their legal name, the name with which they register with the state of registration.
For a chuch to use the word "corporation" in its legal title does not necessarily imply that it is a business, like those listed on the stock exchange. It merely means that it can hold title to its church buildings, hire secretaries, enter into construction contracts, hold copyrights, etc.
One of the differences between a corporation sole and other corporations is that one officer (such as the bishop of a Catholic diocese) IS the corporation. If the person occupying that office is replaced by the church, they notify the state of the replacement.
The LDS church is, in fact, a "corporation sole," meaning it has legal status as a church.
Many non-profit or charitable organizations are also corporations, usually called in the law "non-profit corporations" or "not-for-profit corporations."
Both non-profit corporations and corporations sole may also own interests in for-profit (business) enterprises, and their income from those business are indeed subject to tax, like any business.
- retired lawyer