End Citizens United (ECU) President Tiffany Muller released the following statement on the updated Republican tax bill that would expand the Johnson Amendment rollback. The Brady amendment, introduced in the Ways and Means committee today, expands the rollback of the Johnson Amendment to all 501(c)(3) groups, now including charities in addition to houses of worship. The Johnson Amendment is a crucial law that prevents political mega-donors from using churches and charities to funnel money into campaigns.
“This is the cherry on top for political mega-donors and special interests who want to buy elections. It not only undermines the missions of churches and charities, but could ultimately turn them into fronts for campaign spending, giving mega-donors a vehicle to hide political contributions and a tax break for doing so. Mixing up elections with the work of these critical institutions threatens the integrity of both our civil society and our democracy.”
Under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code, churches, charities, and other similar nonprofits are prohibited from endorsing and actively supporting candidates if they wish to maintain their tax-exempt status. The Johnson Amendment does not forbid pastors or congregation members from stating their personal political views or from donating to candidates. It does protect the public from being fooled into contributing to a fraud charity designed only to conduct political action, rather than working for the common good.
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