Legal Issues

Why must Churches register again?     A new law was introduced into legislation by the Ukraine Rada (parliament) on September 17, 2015 ( #652-VIII, per #2049 by Oksana Prodan) for the purpose of an increase in charity and free social services which obligated changes to the statutes of non-profit organizations prior to the 31st of December, 2016.

The Church must amend their bylaws with the specifics to the tax law in various areas.

For example: 1. Church must amend the line in the bylaw that says, the goods/offerings/property of the Church can not be distributed among Church members. 2. The Church is limited to its activity by what has been predestined in its bylaw 3. In the case of shutting the Church done, its funds can be redistributed to other NON profit organization, etc.

 

What is the history of this new law? The law’s main goal is to bring order in the legal sphere of non-profit organizations. This law affects all charities, non-governmental organizations, trade unions, political parties, religious organizations and Churches. Unfortunately, Ukrainian MPs did not expect that by adopting these changes to the tax law it would affect the activities of Churches. The registration process of Church bylaws are more complicated compared to charitable or nonprofit organizations.

 

Can the law be changed? There are two bills under consideration to amend the law. One foresees a one year delay of implementation of the law; the second, foresees the exclusion of religious (nonprofit corporations)  from the list of organizations that are required to change their statutes. Both bills have not been submitted to the Parliament yet. They are currently  being discussed by expert groups, heads of religious communities and members of parliament. In general, one of the amendments mentioned above will hopefully be adopted, because in January 1, 2017 there will be a collapse among the Churches and they will immediately  lose their non-profit status and will start being charged 18% of income tax on all donations. During summer Ukrainian Parliament did  not have enough votes to pass the bill. Most likely, this matter will be discussed in September of 2016.

 

Why do Churches require help to  re-register?

There is no legal center in Ukraine, that offers systematic and professional help to religious organizations. The existing reality in Ukraine shows us the level of ignorance of religious organizations,  when it comes to the legal side of things. The recently adapted law, that affects all nonprofit sector (including religious organizations), demonstrates how deep is the problem. Some of the Churches exist and operate based on the bylaws incorporated 26 years ago. For the last 26 years Ukraine has adopted many laws and legislative acts, which directly influences religious sphere and yet, most of the Churches are still ignorant concerning their rights until it’s too late.

We have desire and understanding to fill in the gap and assist Churches and NGO in this matters.

 

Why is Nashe Pravo involved and why create the Christian Legal Center?

Nashe Pravo has a team of Christian lawyers experienced with the many issues Churches and religious organizations face. This new project gives us an opportunity to help Churches even more, by bringing their statutes/bylaws in accordance with modern law. Many Churches still operate based on the statutes/bylaws registered back in 1990 and have never done any re-registration/amendments to their official documents, thus they have made themselves ineligible  to enter into rental contracts, purchase property or provide humanitarian aide.

 

What types of organizations are affected?

  1. Charitable organizations – the procedure of amending the charter is very easy, the statute can be changed in a day.
  2. Public organizations NGO – because of the decentralization, registration and making amendments in the charter became more complicated now.
  3. Trade unions – in Ukraine they are seldom visited, suspicious and try do all the registration affairs by themselves.
  4. Political parties – party has just one statute, and its regional offices subordinate to it, almost all existing parties have made changes to the statutes already.
  5. Religious organizations (Churches, regional, national Church  unions, missions, brotherhood, spiritual educational institutions) – have a complex so called double registration. At the beginning (for the local Church), registration of changes in the statute should be made in regional state administrations, and then in a state registrar according to the Church location. For national and regional associations – registration of statute changes should be made at the Ministry of Culture, and then at the state registrar according to the location.

When must filing be complete? By January the 1st of 2017

What documents or items are required to be filed? Due to the fact, that following registration process has a so called “double registration”, the general list of documents looks like this :

– Registration card of made amendments ;

– Protocol of the general assembly of Church members with the approval of adopted changes;

– Statute/bylaw. New edition;

– Proof of Church property ownership contract,  proof of lease/rent premises contract if such;

– Information about Church’s leadership;

– Receipt of paid government fees (18 dollars).

Is registration permanent? Yes. However, with past history of changing rules in Ukraine, we would like to offer help and assistance to Churches and nonprofit organizations, by providing tools, templates and consultations, to facilitate future registration challenges.

What will be returned from the government? Proof of registration. New re-registered statute/bylaw.

Will there be annual or periodic filings? No

What are the consequences of not registering? Churches and nonprofit organizations will be required to pay an income tax of 18% on all donations, accounting and tax reporting will become more complicated, which will result in extra expenses for the accounting.

Are there other steps after documents are filed and payment is made? No

What government office(s) collect documents and receives payment? For local Churches: regional state administration, local registrar, according to the location of the Church. For national Ukrainian and regional associations registration of statute changes should proceed at the Ministry of Culture, and then, at the state registrar by the location.

Is there a government website and/or news articles with information about this new registration?  This kind of resource doesn’t exist, however, tax department releases (from time to time) letters of explanation of the procedure and motivation for non-profit organizations to complete the registration process on time.

Is there a way to receive a filing extension? (Like an extension to file personal tax returns in US) Yes. There will be a bill submitted to the parliament for one-year deferment.

SCOPE

How many organizations are affected?

– NGOs – 70321;

– Unions – 26321;

– Charitable organizations – 15384;

– Political parties (their cells) – 15557

Religious organizations – 23,261 (according to statistics), but 35,000 of them were registered.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) – 12000

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) – 5000,

Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church – 1300

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church – 3825,

Roman Catholic Church – 1100

National Union of Evangelical Churches of Christians-Baptists – 2700,

National Union of Evangelical Churches of Christians-Pentecostals – 1600

 

How many Churches are affected? According to statistics, 23,261 Churches are affected, but because of part of them are registered and haven’t received non-profit status for any reasons – about 35,000 Churches.

How many Churches of each type are affected? Follow the answer above.

How many other Christian organizations are affected? There are about 3000 missions in Ukraine, but probably they had made changes in their statutes a long time ago.

Where can we obtain listing of Churches/NGOs requiring registration? That type of list doesn’t exist. We need to work through the national Unions.

Cost

What is the total estimated registration cost? The market value of lawyer’s work is about $200/Church, organization.

What payment is due the government? 18 $

What is the estimated legal and filing fees? We want every Church to donate 50$, which going to cover the work.

Are there any other costs? Office rent, telephone services, site maintenance, mailings.

Is the cost the same across the board to register a large NGO and small NGO? There is no difference.

Why can’t some Church/NGOs make the payment to register? – Some Churches/ngo are too small and may have problem collecting needed funds. But, the reality is that most of the Churches or NGO will be able to cover the cost.

What portion of the cost will Churches be asked to cover? – Official fee of 18$, plus the 50$ “donation” to the CLC. We also consider promoting the idea of sponsorship, so those Church who is not able to pay will be encouraged to look for a sponsor (abroad, for instance).

PROCESS

How will organizations register, including those in remote villages without Internet? Our partner is  Christian Lawyers Association  of Ukraine, which combine 360 lawyers from all different denominations or directly through Church’s administrators/administrations by algorithm provided by the center. The mechanism: organizations will have to submit their documents themselves. CLC, and its partners, will provide document templates, registration algorithm and full supervisory for for “clients”. Those in remote areas will be reached thru CLC network, as well as thru the service of central office in Kiev (by telephone, etc).

  1. CLC central office will be able to cover a full spectrum of the work for: National Unions, National associations, National NGO and all those, who have their registration done on the national level or in Kiev.
  2. CLC central office will be able to provide for consultations, supervision, document templates and algorithms for ALL types of organizations.
  3. CLC lawyers WON’T be able physically (submitting documents, printing out of documents, etc) register all types of organization
  4. CLC will be holding regional meetings, educational seminars and consultation, to educate Churches/ngo  on current situation, who needs and can be done, and procedure of how can it be done

 

Will office space and equipment be needed? Yes. The costs  of renting an office space would be about $ 500/month at the beginning. But if the quantity of Churches/organizations will increase there would be a need for  a larger office, which would estimate around $1,500/month.

How many and what type of staff will be needed? Three lawyers are involved now, their main task is to develop document templates, writing registration algorithms, and making a consultations  with the heads of religious denominations.

How much staff time will be required for registration processing? (For example, if one person can do 100 per day, 29,000 will take 290 man-days of effort.)

Realizing this problem we made a decision:

Central office  team of lawyers performs an advisory function,  supervising and leading registration of all Ukrainian confessions/Unions,  helping them organize  registration  regionally through  Christian lawyers, their own law services and branches of the Christian Legal Centre in regions. Presuming that in the future there will be 1 or 2 lawyers in regional centers, as  representatives of CLC. Each case will be different. A simple case will require a day of work in order to prepare all needed documents to be submitted. The actual standby time for documents to be processed by the government is 1 month. Which most of it is expecting the positive decision from the state bodies. The lawyer’s duty, during this time, will be to check with the state bodies, consulting and providing a needed explanation, if such.

PAYMENT

What portion of cost will be paid by Churches? We want Churches to donate $40 as payment for helping making changes in their statutes/bylaws.

How will that payment be made and accounted for? Money would come from the account of Church to the account of the organization Nashe Pravo, the founder of which is Armada Union. Or this is would be as a donation to the account of Nashe Pravo from pastor or administrator of a Church .

How will funds be paid to the government? Payment to the government would be made by the pastor or Church administration representative by invoice.

How will organizations make their share of the payment? For the transparency of getting money process, money would be coming at the account of the Nashe Pravo through bank processes (card, bank, online)

DONATIONS

How and where are donations made? Donations in the USA can be made to Armada and the American Pastors Network.  In Ukraine, the organization Nashe Pravo has bank accounts in Ukrainian Hryvnias and US dollars. Anyone who is willing to help Churches in legal issues can donate an any/unlimited amount of money. Nashe Pravo is a non-profit organization, so we don’t pay taxes from donations.

 

Account in Hryvnia

GS “Our right”

EDRPOU (ЕДРПОУ) 40129708

Metropolitan branch of PJSC CB “Privatbank”

MFO (МФО) 380269,

Giro 26004056210434

 

Account in dollars

Company name: Public union “Our Right”

bank account of the company: 26002056209221

Name of the bank: Privatbank, Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine

Bank SWIFT code: PBANUA2X

Company address: UA, 03150, Kyiv, Большая Васильковская, 131а

IBAN code: UA263802690000026002056209221

How will receipts be given? Nashe Pravo  will  publish annual reports of handling the  money on our website.

What ongoing communications will be made with donors? Providing monthly reports about work that has been made.

EXECUTIVE

What are the strategic implications of this project?

The project going to strengthen the Church in relation to the legal sphere and will supply a productive collaboration between Church and the State.

Strategically, we would like to become experts and watch dogs for the Church and NGO and provide all needed assistance and help.

Our goal is to become known among the Christian community of Ukraine, as well as among all the non profit organizations. We would like to build a database of all the Churches/NGO of Ukraine.

Our main task is to supervise c\Churches/NGO during the reincorporation procedure, provide oral and written consultations, developing document templates, providing explanations to state bodies with the aim to simplify the registration process.