National Council of Nonprofits: Nonprofit Nonpartisanship Preserved

Thank you, National Council of Nonprofits, for sharing: 

The final version of the tax bill does not include language to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment, the longstanding tax-law protection that prevents candidates for public office and their donors from hounding charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, or foundations for endorsements and other political campaign engagement. But this is not for lack of trying. The Senate Parliamentarian scratched the House provision from the tax bill because the measure violated the “Byrd Rule,” a budget rule that prevents the majority from slipping in policy changes on filibuster-free reconciliation legislation reserved only for revenue, spending, and deficit reduction provisions. One Senator personally argued with the Parliamentarian and sought to modify the provision at the last minute to get around the protection of the Byrd Rule, but to no avail.

The House-passed version of the tax bill would have politicized the 501(c)(3) community by allowing charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations to engage in partisan electioneering for or against candidates if such action is “in the ordinary course of the organization’s regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose,” and it incurs no more than “de minimis” incremental expenses in doing so. The result of the proposal, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, would be the diversion of billions of non-deductible dollars from political organizations, like candidate and party campaign committees, to newly politicized churches and charitable entities because donors would for the first time be able to take charitable tax deductions.

The very well-funded advocacy groups seeking to politicize charitable nonprofits are promising to continue their fight to repeal the Johnson Amendment. They and their supporters in Congress continue to ignore the more than 5,600 organizations nationwide, along with thousands of religious leadersfaith organizationslaw enforcement, and the vast majority of the general public who oppose weakening the Johnson Amendment. Charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations must keep up their vocal opposition to any change to nonprofit nonpartisanship.

For more information:

Comparison of House and Senate Tax Bills and Their Effects on Nonprofits, National Council of Nonprofits, updated December 15, 2017.

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