Want to stay up to date, but need the short version? We’ve got you covered! Here are the major federal policy updates from Washington, DC that may impact nonprofit work this month:
Protecting Charities from Partisan Politics
As we have come to expect, debates over the Johnson Amendment have and are likely to continue to come up in any must-pass legislation this year. Last week, both the House and Senate voted on the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill, that funds the government through September 30. In the debates leading up to the release of the bill, policymakers were considering including a provision that would weaken the Johnson Amendment, a 60-year old law that protects charities from partisan political pressure – which would threaten the charitable deduction, donor privacy, and the public’s trust in the nonprofit sector. Thanks to the continued advocacy from charitable and religious organizations, a bi-partisan group of congressional leaders kept the language out of in the final spending bill.
Preserving the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) Program
Created in 2007 under President George W. Bush, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) turned 10 last year – allowing the first group of applicants who began making payments in 2007 to be eligible to have their federal student loans forgiven in exchange for a decade of public service, which includes young professionals working in nonprofit organizations. However, President Trump has called for the elimination of PSLF in his Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 budget proposals. Not only did Congress ignore this request, but the FY 2018 budget deal includes a $350 million increase for the program – including funding designated for outreach efforts to educate and market the program for those in need. This successful effort was largely due to the advocacy of public service professionals educating policymakers about the impact of the program.
The Taxpayer First Act
House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chair Lynn Jenkins, R-KS and ranking member John Lewis, D-GA have introduced draft language for the Taxpayer First Act, which is expected to be brought up for discussion with the full committee in the next few weeks. While the bill is focused broadly on modernizing IRS oversight, one of the key components requires all tax-exempt organizations to file their Form 990s electronically. This eliminates the threshold that required only exempt organizations with assets over $10 million to file electronically. Jenkins and Lewis are seeking comments on the draft by April 6 to firstname.lastname@example.org.