Publication 557 under “Other Section 501 (c)(3) Organizations states….”Although a church, its integrated auxiliaries, or a convention or association of churches is not required to file Form 1023 to be exempt from federal income tax or to receive tax deductible contributions, the organization (church) may find it advantages to obtain recognition of exemption.” In other words, churches, integrated auxiliaries, and association of churches do not have to apply to be tax exempt from the IRS.
Publication 526 Charitable Contributions states…”You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. To become a qualified organization most organizations other than churches and governments, as described below, must apply to the IRS.” Examples. The following list gives some examples of qualified organizations. Churches, a convention or association of churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations.”
Form 1023 Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the InternalRevenue Code. Instructions for Form 1023 states bottom right of page one… “Form 1023 not necessary. The following types of organizations may be considered tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) even if they do not file Form 1023. Churches… Integrated auxiliaries of churches and conventions or associations of churches.”