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Op-Ed: A Message to Congress - Keep Charities and Foundations Nonpartisan

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Removing the longstanding ban on partisan political activity by charitable and philanthropic organizations presents a severe threat to the integrity and wellbeing of those organizations.

Among the many ideas being considered as part of tax reform discussions in Congress is one that would remove the longstanding ban on partisan political activity by charitable and philanthropic organizations. This proposal presents a severe threat to the integrity and well-being of charitable and philanthropic organizations, and Congress should not allow it to proceed.

Since 1954, tax law has contained a provision prohibiting 501(c)(3) organizations from directly or indirectly attempting to influence the election or defeat of any candidate for public office. This ban, also known as the Johnson Amendment for its sponsor, then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, applies not only to churches but to all 501(c)(3) organizations including public charities and private foundations. 

President Trump has repeatedly called for a repeal of the 62-year-old ban, and several different bills have been introduced in Congress to weaken or completely rescind it. Like 4,500 nonprofits and allies across the country, the Center for Non-Profits and the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers strongly oppose repeal and support preserving the current law.