Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a FY 2018 Financial Services appropriations bill that prohibits the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from enforcing the Johnson Amendment for all charitable organizations.
The bill prevents the IRS from using funds to hold churches and associations of worship accountable if they violate the 63-year-old law that protects the nonpartisan status of charitable organizations.
During the bill mark-up several members of the Committee voiced their concerns that efforts to weaken enforcement of the Johnson Amendment jeopardizes the integrity of nonprofits. Historically, we know several examples in which misuse of charitable resources led to an erosion of public trust in the nonprofit sector and prompted calls for increased regulation. Although the language included in the spending bill raises constitutional questions, it still could damage the reputation of charities and their trusted role in their communities.
Independent Sector, along with a coalition of nonprofit groups from both the secular and faith communities continue to educate Congress about the potential threat this type of legislation poses to the nonprofit sector. If your organization plans to meet with appropriators in the coming months to educate them on how their decisions impact your mission, please be sure to tell them that the American public opposes any effort to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment.