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Johnson Amendment Repeal Axed, Averting Nonprofit Crisis – For Now

Dec. 15, 2017

Johnson Amendment Repeal Axed, Averting Nonprofit Crisis – For Now

Statements From Public Citizen Experts

Note: Late Thursday, a provision that would have effectively repealed the Johnson Amendment and allowed 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in partisan politics was removed from the final version of the tax legislation because it was incompatible with U.S. Senate rules.

“This is good news for the nonprofit sector and for our democracy. The proposed language would have opened up our charitable and religious institutions to incredible partisan manipulation and divisiveness, and would have opened a tremendous loophole in our campaign finance system by giving billionaires a tax-free way to corrupt our election system. Its removal from the tax legislation is good news, but we stand ready to oppose any nonenforcement provision that may be attached as an ideological rider to upcoming spending legislation.”

– Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs, Public Citizen

“The Johnson Amendment is practically the only bright line rule for nonprofits to follow when it comes to what political activity means for nonprofits. We need to make the rules better for all nonprofits and create rules that protect (c)(3) nonpartisanship, give clear guidance and safe harbors to protect civic engagement, and prevent bad actors from gaming the system to spend undisclosed money to influence elections.”

– Emily Peterson-Cassin, Bright Lines Project coordinator, Public Citizen