Take Action: Sign the National Council letter to protect the Johnson Amendment
Over the past several months we’ve shared information with you about the impact of an administration move to repeal the Johnson Amendment. This provision in the tax code, named after President Lyndon Johnson, is intended to keep politics and the money that flows to political candidates out of charitable nonprofits. In March, the Foraker Governance Board issued a statement calling for support for nonprofit partisanship, and we joined over 4,500 nonprofits across the country, including organizations from Alaska, who submitted a similar call through a letter to Congress (join us and sign your organization on today!).
In May President Trump signed an executive order that essentially instructed the IRS to look the other way when it finds that a nonprofit or religious organization violates the Johnson Amendment. Shortly after, we held a positive and productive meeting with Anchorage faith leaders encouraging them to sign on to the letter to Congress.
Today the amendment faces a new challenge. The National Council reports that the House Appropriations Committee on Financial Services approved by party-line vote an FY2018 appropriations bill that includes a provision that would significantly weaken enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. According to the National Council, the provision would “prevent the IRS from spending any funds to make a final determination that a house of worship or its affiliate has violated the Johnson Amendment unless the IRS meets three conditions: (1) the Commissioner of the IRS consents to a determination of unlawful conduct, (2) politicians on the House and Senate tax committees are given 30-days notice of the law-enforcement determination, and (3) an additional 90-days notice is provided before enforcement can commence.
To fight back this effort, the National Council drafted a letter, which Foraker has signed, that strongly opposes this latest attempt to weaken the Johnson Amendment. In addition, National Council President/CEO Tim Delaney submitted an op-ed last week to Nonprofit Quarterly that clearly explains this important issue and ways we can all be involved in protecting the Johnson Amendment. We encourage you to read Tim’s article.
We feel strongly that any attempt to repeal the Johnson Amendment is completely unnecessary. Nonprofits and their individual staff, board members, and volunteers already have many legal avenues to freely express their views on a wide range of policy issues. And as individual Americans they are still afforded the right to free speech. Changes to the Johnson Amendment will only harm religious freedom and free speech – values that are fundamental to our nation and our people.
We will continue to monitor this critical issue for our sector and to advocate to our congressional delegation about the harm to missions and organizations that will result from weakening the Johnson Amendment. We encourage your organization to sign the letter and join us in contacting our congressional delegation.
To read more about our position click here.
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