Remove Section 112 from the FSGG bill.
Sign the petition to keep non-profits non-partisan! Remove Section 112 from the FSGG bill.
Buried in a House appropriations bill for next fiscal year is an extraneous provision (rider) that would enable politicians, their operatives, and donors to pressure hundreds of thousands of nonprofits into endorsing and diverting charitable assets to candidates for public office.
If It Just Gives Churches a Free Pass to Violate the Law, Why Should I Care?
All 501(c)(3) orgs should recognize that weakening the protections of the Johnson Amendment for any of us weakens it for all of us.
- Last year, the House Ways & Means Committee initially considered language that exempted only “churches” and their auxiliaries, but later expanded it to cover ALL 501(c)(3) organizations, so it is unsafe to sit on the policy sidelines assuming that your organization may be safe.
-Last year, the Joint Committee on Taxation determined that a similar attempt to weaken the Johnson Amendment for “churches” would have cost taxpayers $2.1 billion over several years. The reason? The nonpartisan “scorekeeper” of Congress recognized that donors would shift billions of dollars in partisan donations away from candidates and PACs and instead to newly politicized houses of worship (think “pop-up churches”) through which the donors could receive charitable tax deductions for the first time.
Section 112 of the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) spending bill for the fiscal year beginning on October 1 seeks to make it virtually impossible for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce the law against certain nonprofits for even the most egregious violations of the 1954 law known as the Johnson Amendment that requires nonprofits to be nonpartisan. The proposed change would effectively give “churches” and their auxiliaries a free pass to ignore the longstanding law that prevents them, as well as charitable nonprofits and foundations, from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office or diverting nonprofit assets to fund political campaigns. The rider offers no reductions or lessening of the restrictions on enforcement against secular organizations and leaders, thus creating a framework that explicitly encourages discriminatory enforcement of the law.
You might be wondering why, as a non-partisan 501c4 library advocacy organization, WE would be emailing you about this issue. The problem is that libraries are facing a significant crisis in this country where large organizations like the Koch Brothers funded SuperPAC, Americans For Prosperity, are spending millions of dollars to fight against the mechanisms that fund libraries. In fact, they've succeeded in closing or defunding libraries a number of times already. If churches are given the ability to funnel untaxed money from those organizations or if wealthy billionaires are allowed to create "churches" where they can receive tax incentives to push their political agenda then we will see a huge increase in funding and resources for organizations that want to fight against things like libraries. We are also concerned because many libraries are organized as 501c3 non-profits and many local governments subcontract to a wide range of non-profits to supplement their work. We just don't think that your tax dollars to non-profits should go to push a political agenda (even if we support that agenda) and this provision could open that issue up.
This change to the Johnson Amendment would be contrary to the views of the vast majority of organizations that benefit from keeping divisive partisanship away from their operations, as reflected in the Faith Voices letter signed by more than 4,400 faith leaders, the separate letter signed by more than 100 denominations and major religious organizations, the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship signed by more than 5,800 organizations in all 50 states, and a letter from the law enforcement community warning against changing proven law, as well as polls showing that 72 percent of the public support keeping the Johnson Amendment in place and 89 percent of evangelical pastors who say it is wrong for preachers to endorse candidates from the pulpit.