PHOTO: From the meeting of the Charter committee in the Patriarchate. They are scheduled to meet again in early March to cook in the new Charter the “strengthening of the unity” of GOARCH – a Phanariot speak for “centralization” of control of all parishes and their property… (see the official announcement of the Patriarchate at the end of this post).
The “Group Tax Exemption” achieves specific goals. First, GOARCH is officially notified of all the donations that are given to particular parishes, and second, it is a practical step towards centralization, where the headquarters, especially in the framework of a legal battle, can prove that the parishes are subordinate entities.
By Nick Stamatakis
A few days ago, I posted an article on the abrupt developments in a parish under the (formerly Old Calendarist) Patriarchal / Stavropegiac Monastery of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, where suddenly, just before Christmas, the old priest was replaced by a young one. This young priest presented, out of the blue and without consulting the parish, a new Charter, basically turning the parish, a separate 501c3, into a monastery!! (You can read the article by linking here – it’s now translated into English). My immediate suspicion was that the Agia Irini Chrysovalantou organization, (being directly under the Patriarchate) was consolidating all 5-6 parishes they had under the authority of Bishop Ierotheos, to control everything centrally. I also hypothesized that what was going on there was probably a “test” for the centralization of control for all 500 parishes of GOARCH.
Indicative of the aggression of the actors involved is that Bishop Ierotheos, on the same day as the parishioners filed a lawsuit in Suffolk County, NY, emptied the accounts of the Parish and its Philoptochos (Saints Anargyroi of Greenport), taking away $90,000!! Who are these people? The word “Sultans” I used in the title does not even begin to describe the bad actors we are witnessing…
What is the meaning of the introduction by GOARCH of “Group Tax Exemption”?
My suspicions were justified yesterday when I received a recent letter by the GOARCH Chancellor, Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, to all the parishes regarding a common “Group Tax Exemption” number issued by the IRS. You can read the full letter below, and you can see the IRS letter here GOARCH – IRS GROUP FILING LETTER – LIST OF PARISHES – please pay special attention to the list of 250 parishes at the bottom of the IRS letters and see if your parish is included. Just by reading this, several questions arise regarding the true meaning of such grouping. Don’t the parishes have their tax-exempt number as separate 501c3 non-profit organizations? Some do and some don’t… Those who do not have a tax-exempt number used the GOARCH number in the past.
As it is obvious from the wording of the Chancellor’s letter (below), by grouping all the parishes under the same tax-exempt number GOARCH achieves certain goals. First, they are officially notified of all the donations that are given to particular parishes – and this offers advantages that we can all imagine, from determining each parish’s annual contribution to the “Sultans” of East 79th Street and (eventually) to the Patriarchate and by keeping tabs of the “wealth” of each parish. Second, this “Group Tax Exemption” is a practical step towards centralization, where the headquarters, especially in the framework of a legal battle, can prove that the parishes are subordinate entities and that their 501c3 does not mean that they have independent control of their property. Notice that all the headquarters care about is property and money. Did you notice any “centralized” actions toward supporting the parishes in faith and ministry? NONE.
(Note: Please do not confuse this tax-exempt number with the EIN – Employers Identification Number: Each parish needs to pay its payroll taxes under its own separate EIN number and they cannot use the GOARCH number).
This last point about “centralization” was proven in the case of Agia Irini Chrysovalantou with practical moves from GOARCH and the Patriarchate. Our sources tell us that GOARCH and the “Sultans” of the Instanbul Patriarchate were very much annoyed by the lawsuit filed by the Greenport parish against Bishop Ierotheos of Agia Irini Chrysovalantou. It seems that the parishioners have hit a nerve with the legal action because all 5-6 parishes of Chrysovalantou can join in this legal action, and Helleniscope hit the same nerve by reporting it.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court of the State of New York can issue a decision that would give preference to the local parish’s 501c3 against the “central authority” of GOARCH. Let’s not forget here that the whole beauty of the American Constitution is the idea of decentralization that permeates all levels of American Society: Without it, we would not call the “American Experiment” a “democracy”. Decentralization prohibits the abuse of power – such as we have seen repeatedly by the “Sultans” of GOARCH and the Patriarchate and gives preference to localized entities. If the Supreme Court of New York in this case does the same, a legal precedent specific to GOARCH will be created and it will not be easy to reverse.
Finally, given the abuses of power by GOARCH and the Patriarchate, under certain circumstances, in this or another similar case of a parish rejecting the 79th Street headquarters, the possibility of a class action lawsuit may emerge, where the leaders of the 500 parishes may revolt and establish their rights against the corrupt headquarters and the even more corrupt Patriarchate.
Are there any true leaders out there? Or are you all willing to be treated as little-minded pawns of the corrupt “central” authority that has turned this Church of Christ into “a house of trade”?… Will those who have not already abandoned the “thieves of Phanar” – heading for …greener pastures – stand their ground and fight back?
DISCLAIMER: The views and statements expressed in this article constitute constitutionally protected opinions of this author. The statements above do not constitute legal advice.
PHOTO: Fr. Nektarios, one of the most inept priests of GOARCH, who unfortunately now serves (himself) as Chancellor….
LETTER TO THE PARISHES BY THE CHANCELLOR FR. NEKTARIOS PAPAZAFIROPOULOS
Dear Reverend Fathers,
Wishing you a Happy and Blessed New Year.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America would like to inform our Metropolises and Parishes that, after a lengthy process, we have been successful in receiving a group tax exemption from the Internal Revenue Service that serves to document that donors can make charitable donations for tax purposes to those Metropolises and Parishes that are covered by our group tax exemption.
This group tax exemption from the Internal Revenue Service covers institutions from the date that they were formed so there is no lapse in tax designation despite receiving the letter currently. While the status of our Metropolises and Parishes as charitable tax exempt organizations has always been the case, we have not had an affirmative letter from the Internal Revenue Service that could be shared with donors and others.
In addition to donors, many vendors, charitable giving websites and charity rating agencies require that not-for-profit organizations, including churches and religious institutions, provide proof in the form of this tax exemption letter that indicates that they are recognized as a Section 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code before affording discounts or access to their services. The group exemption letter can now serve that purpose and, for those Parishes that do not have their own separate tax exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service, the availability of this group exemption can be of substantial benefit. If your Parish previously provided your consent to be included in the group exemption request and furnished the requested information to your Metropolis Chancellor, you have been included in the group exemption by the Internal Revenue Service.
A copy of the group exemption letter can be obtained here IRSgroupRulingLetter (https://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001LLp8l_5YelqQZO7YJFaEB7RyH2FtNZMt66kF9dsl954_ll4vUl3mT7rwla-Txhx264e-EUGhPWheWCeO-REqx1SHeud5dY9EXo_j-N_lEynseeDPvwrVjZJw3O8lj2hUC_V0gvdF7rWjI0sH1049ktDEcObWYuxkSp0-tbVWvbdk5AIw9BdegCYII1PuDNdAtAvIgDdvCSKePk46lbgm3Q7QhVasF5H7mqRdJEOuIpw=&c=qnQUjpp53PLpcODQjPtjNDMEcX-NZgwHZlJyeXQzBMOMzTsHg5o50Q==&ch=iOGNFpdgxWyhRfKRCqXn6_H_yqR8aRYtBmkkbgv54LfaudO1pKjvqg==) together with a list of parishes that are covered by the group tax exemption letter. The group tax exemption letter discusses the filing of Form 990s but please be advised that this requirement does not apply to our parishes or integrated auxiliaries, so there are no 990 filings with the Internal Revenue Service that should be made for the listed entities.
If you would like to be included in the group exemption and did not previously provide your information, you may do so by sending an email to Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com) with the following information: Legal name of the Parish Address Federal EIN The next update by the Internal Revenue Service for those institutions covered by our group tax exemption will be later this year.
Please note that the Internal Revenue Service maintains an online database of tax exempt organizations eligible to receive charitable contributions entitled The Tax Exempt Organization Search Tool that can be found at apps.irs.gov/app/eos/. This database will be updated with those Parishes that are covered by the group exemption shortly. The Internal Revenue Service has informed us that while it will take them some time to update the database, the non-inclusion of our Parishes in the database currently has no bearing on whether they can use the group exemption letter to demonstrate their charitable designation. If your Parish has its own separate tax exemption designation from the Internal Revenue Service as a Section 501(c)(3) org anization, you are unaffected by this group tax exemption. Any further questions on this matter can be directed to Elaine Allen, Treasurer of the Archdiocesan Council at firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com) or Fr. Soterios Baroody, Chief Financial Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com) .
Conveying to you His Eminence’s archpastoral blessing,
I remain In Christ,
Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos
Chancellor Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Today, January 13, 2023 at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under the chairmanship of His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, took place the inaugural meeting of the established ten-member Mixed Commission on the topic of the revision of the existing Charter of the Sacred Archdiocese of America.
The entire discussion and exchange of views was informative and creative and took place in a fraternal and constructive spirit. All the members of the Commission recognized the need for modifications to the text of the Charter in order to serve the spiritual needs of the beloved Orthodox flock in America and for the purpose of strengthening the unity within the Sacred Archdiocese of America and its canonical bond with the Mother Church of Constantinople, as well as the alignment of the liturgical practice of the Archdiocese with the order of the Holy Great Church of Christ.
It was decided that the work of the Commission will continue on Wednesday, March 8, in the Sacred Metropolis of Chalcedon.
photos: Nicholas Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate