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Time to Protect the Johnson Amendment

by Jennifer Gray

The Senate passed its tax reform bill early Saturday morning. Many of us are still trying to understand the details and the potential impacts. We do know that 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 who will be named soon. 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

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