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Keeping Nonprofits Non-Partisan

Wednesday, June 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jennifer Blair
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Keeping Nonprofits Non-Partisan
Katie Hogan-Holmberg ~ June 12th, 2018
What’s Happening?
Beginning June 13th, 2018, the House Appropriations Committee will consider The Financial Services and Government Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2019, which could limit IRS spending on determining if a religious institution has engaged in political activity.
“The Financial Services and Government Appropriations Act contains language that undermines the Johnson Amendment by prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from spending any funds on determining if a house of worship or its affiliate broke the law. The only exception would be if the IRS Commissioner approves the investigation and Congress is notified well ahead of time.”*
It is important to note that these new political freedoms would not extend to charitable organizations that don’t have an affiliation with a religious institution.
*Copied from source: Association of Fundraising Professionals
What qualifies as a Charitable Organization?
Charitable organizations are determined by the IRS and are organizations, including churches, whose focus area is on this list of exempt purposes. As of now, approved organizations are not able to support or oppose particular candidates, nor can they spend a majority of their time working to influence legislation.
“To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”*
What is the Johnson Amendment?
Refers to the part in bold italics in the section above. It was an amendment proposed by Lyndon B. Johnson in July of 1954. See the Wiki link below for more.
Where can I see the bill for myself?
Review the proposed bill here. Pay special attention to sections 106, 107, and 112 (pages 20 - 23).
What’s Next?
For more on what’s to come please see this article from the National Council of Nonprofits.
The Full Committee Markup of 2019 will be webcast on June 13th, and can be seen live at this link.

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