We are a church who is opening up a medical center for the community. Will we have to set up a separate 501c for the medical center or can we create a DBA for the medical center ?
You don't have to set up a separate 501(c)(3) for the medical center. You can apply for and get a dba name. However, I would recommend that you separately incorporate it and apply for . Running a medical center carries with it significant risk of liability. If the medical center got sued, you wouldn't want the church to get sued also.
In addition, if you apply for separate 501(c)(3) status, you may be able to get donations for the medical center from people who might be reluctant to give to the church. The process can take 3-6 months to incorporate and get IRS approval for tax exempt status, depending on a number of factors.
You can be affiliated, but you shouldn't operate this completely different entity (one with a completely different exempt purpose) under the church. In addition to the foundational exempt classification issues, as my colleague has mentioned, liability is also a concern.
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