Time to Protect the Johnson Amendment - Updated Dec. 12
The Senate passed its tax reform bill. There is good news – the Senate bill does not include language weakening the Johnson Amendment. The House version contains language that essentially guts the Johnson Amendment. It’ll be up to the committee of conference to decide.
Join us in contacting Sen. Susan Collins and urge her to tell the committee of conference to not include language weakening the Johnson Amendment.
While many nonprofits have been advocating with the senator on various pieces of tax reform, we hope all can agree that allowing nonprofits to endorse political candidates and to spend money on political campaigns are distracting from mission and can decrease the nonprofit sector’s credibility.
Take Action to Protect Public Trust in Maine’s Charitable Nonprofits
The House and Senate have passed separate versions of tax reform. The difference between the bills must be negotiated in what’s called a conference committee made up of a dozen or more Representatives and Senators. Negotiations are happening now. The final vote may occur next week. We ask for your help in urging Sen. Susan Collins to convince the “tax conferees” to preserve nonprofit nonpartisanship and to reject any changes to the Johnson Amendment.
Both the Senate and House bills contain multiple provisions that would harm the ability of charitable nonprofits to advance our missions. The most damaging is Section 5201 of the House-passed bill; it would dramatically change the longstanding, vital protection in law for nonpartisanship of charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations, known as the Johnson Amendment. Section 5201 would allow nonprofit organizations to be pressured to endorse or oppose candidates for public office. The proposed change would also make political donations – for the first time ever – tax-deductible when funneled through charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations.
The Senate respected the widespread and resolute opposition to changing the law expressed by religious denominations and faith leaders, law enforcement officials, charitable nonprofits and foundations (including many from Maine), and the vast majority of the American public.
All people have a vested interest in preserving the independence and nonpartisanship of the charitable and philanthropic sectors.
Please call Sen. Susan Collins (202-224-2523) and deliver this important message:
“I’m a constituent and I’m calling in opposition to a very harmful provision in the tax bill that would weaken the Johnson Amendment and politicize charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations against our wishes. The harmful provision is Section 5201 of the House-passed tax bill that is now in a conference committee with the Senate. Please reach out to every member of the conference committee and tell them the Johnson Amendment language in the House bill must be stripped from the final bill. Thank you.”
General Background + Media
- MANP’s blog, Action Alert: Join Us in Protecting Nonprofit Nonpartisanship
- Comparison of the House and Senate Tax Bills
- Give Voice website (providing history, resources, and links to statements, editorials, and op-eds from across the country)
- Bill Nemitz column touching on the Johnson Amendment, Portland Press Herald, November 30, 2017
- Republicans Should Keep the Johnson Amendment, National Review, December 9, 2017
- Tax Bill Could Make ‘Dark Money’ Political Contributions Tax Deductible, CNN, December 8, 2017
- Letter to Tax Conferees from National Council of Nonprofits, Council on Foundations, and Independent Sector, December 5, 2017, urging them to strike House Tax Bill Section 5201 (weakening the Johnson Amendment).
- Senate Tax Bill: Extremely Harmful to Americans and Nonprofits, But Less Bad Than the House Version, National Council of Nonprofits statement, December 2, 2017.
- An Open Letter to the Hundreds of Millions of Americans Who Have Worked for, Volunteered for, Donated to, or Benefited from the Work of a Charitable Nonprofit: i.e., every living person in the USA, Tim Delaney, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 29, 2017.
- Nonprofits Lobby to Keep Charities Nonpartisan in Final Tax Bill, Michael Wyland, Nonprofit Quarterly, December 8, 2017, prominently featuring the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship signed by more than 5,600 charitable, religious, philanthropic, and other organizations.
- Leave the Johnson Amendment Alone, Ellen P. Aprill, New York Times, December 10, 2017, providing the Loyola Law professors clear-eyed analysis of the many flaws in the proposal to weaken the Johnson Amendment.
- Yes, You Can—and Should! Nonprofit Advocacy as a Core Competency, Dyana P. Mason, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 17, 2017, making “the point that all nonprofit organizations are able to use their voice for the public good,” and providing clear guidance on engaging in public policy debates.