Nonpartisan Nonprofits to Political Parties: Join the Fight to Keep Partisan Politics Away from 501(c)(3) Organizations

In a letter
delivered today
, the National Council of Nonprofits alerted the
chairs of the House and Senate Democratic and Republican party campaign
committees to a provision in the House-passed tax bill that would
significantly undermine the ability of charitable organizations to serve
their communities while also frustrating the ability of political
parties to raise the funds they need to support candidates. The letter
calls on the campaign committee chairs to demand that their colleagues
on the tax conference committee retain the Johnson Amendment, the
longstanding provision in federal law that protects all 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organizations from being pressured to participate in political
campaigns for or against candidates for public office. The weakening of
this protection would have severe implications, not only for America’s
charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations, but also
every American who benefits from the vital community services these
organizations provide.

The letter highlights the devastating impact that tampering with
existing proven law would have on elections, including party committees
and their ability to fundraise. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT)
estimates that the provision to weaken the Johnson Amendment, in Section
5201 of the House-passed tax bill, would cost the U.S. Treasury $2.1
billion for the five years it would be in effect. This cost means
deductions of between $6 billion and $8 billion for political
contributions that donors would be able to claim as itemized deductions.
As a result, for the first time in American history political donors
could get a tax deduction for their political campaign contributions.

“Presented the choice of contributing to your campaign committees, where
donations aren’t tax deductible, and going around you to contribute to a
501(c)(3) organization to get a tax deduction, which option will your
donors choose?” asked Tim Delaney, President and CEO of the National
Council of Nonprofits in the letter.

To highlight the risks to the party campaign committees, the letter to
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH),
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
states: “We trust that you do not want moneys on which you rely to be
siphoned away from political parties to flow to unregulated,
undisclosed, and uncontrollable entities that emerge right before and
disappear right after elections (think pop-up churches that don’t even
have to register with the IRS) to support unvetted and embarrassing
candidates because of this dangerous provision.”

Those in the charitable, religious and philanthropic communities – along
with the vast
majority of Americans
– vehemently oppose any attempts to repeal or
weaken the protections afforded through the Johnson Amendment. This
includes more than 100
mainline religious denominations
, 4,300
faith leaders
, state
law enforcement officials
, and 5,600
charitable nonprofits and foundations
from every state that have
signed their names to joint letters to Congress opposing any changes to
existing law.

In its letter, the National Council of Nonprofits warns that the cost of
injecting partisanship into nonprofits is too high for America’s
charitable community and urges the campaign committee chairs to prevent
the Johnson Amendment from being altered or weakened in any way through
tax reform legislation or the appropriations process.

About the National Council of Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits (Council of Nonprofits) is a trusted
resource and proven advocate for America’s charitable nonprofits.
Connecting the policy dots across all levels and branches of
governments, the Council of Nonprofits keeps nonprofits informed and
empowered to create a positive public policy environment that best
supports nonprofits in advancing their missions. Working with and
through the nation’s largest network of nonprofits – with 25,000-plus
organizational members – we identify emerging trends, share proven
practices, and promote solutions that benefit charitable nonprofits and
the communities they serve. Learn more at www.councilofnonprofits.org.

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