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Action Needed on the Johnson Amendment Again

The House Appropriations Committee is considering a bill that would weaken the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits charities from directly or indirectly attempting to influence an election or defeat of any candidate for public office.

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.

Included in Section 112 of the Financial Service and Government Services Appropriations bill is language that would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from spending any money enforcing the Johnson Amendment when applied to “churches” and their auxiliaries. The only exception is if the IRS Commissioner approves the investigation and notifies Congress. Even in that case, the IRS must wait 90 days to actually enforce the Johnson Amendment.

The bill says nothing about other types of worship, and offers no reductions or lessening of the Johnson Amendment for secular nonprofits.

The Senate has already passed its appropriations bill. Because of action by AFP and other nonprofits, that legislation does not contain any provision to weaken the Johnson Amendment. However, is the House bill is passed in its current form, Section 112 could be included in the final version of the bill.

The Financial Services and Government Services Appropriations Act may be considered this week. AFP members are encouraged to contact their Members of Congress, especially if they serve on the Appropriations Committee, and ask them to support the Johnson Amendment and change the language of Section 112.

AFP announced its position on the Johnson Amendment earlier this year.

Please take a couple of minutes to call your two U.S. Senators today and say:

“I’m calling to urge you to not weaken the Johnson Amendment, which has protected nonprofit organizations from partisan influence for over sixty years. The Financial Services appropriations bill that you will be voting on this week would dramatically weaken these protections for some nonprofits and would do lasting damage to the entire sector. I hope you will protect the Johnson Amendment by removing Section 112 of the Financial Services appropriations bill.”

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