public-policy article

Johnson Amendment Update

June 25, 2018

By Marie Camino

On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee voted in favor of a version of the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill that includes a provision threatening the Johnson Amendment. Section 112 of the bill makes the law extremely difficult for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to enforce, requiring notification to Congress, a 90-day waiting period, and consent from the IRS commissioner for every individual investigation. This provision only applies to houses of worship, and effectively allows churches and other religious organizations to use charitable assets to endorse candidates for public office.

During the debate, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) offered an amendment to strip section 112 from the bill. The amendment failed on a party line vote.

Rolling back protections for non-profit non-partisanship not only politicizes the sector and discourages donations, it incentivizes political donors to funnel their candidate contributions through churches and other houses of worship, where they would then be tax-deductible. Since churches are not required to register with the IRS, these donations would become effectively untraceable, eroding transparency in campaign finance.

The FSGG bill is projected to be combined with two other appropriations bills and move to the House floor in late June or early July. The National Assembly opposes a bill that includes any harmful riders threatening the Johnson Amendment. For more information, take a look at our talking points.