Why is remaining nonpartisan so important…and so at risk now?

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 There currently are live threats to remove the nonpartisan protective shield that is an integral part of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. President Trump recently promised to “get rid of and totally destroy” the protection, and legislation has been reintroduced (H.R. 172,  H.R. 781, and S. 264) that would repeal or substantially weaken the nonpartisan shield.

These proposals don’t recognize the benefits to nonprofits of nonpartisanship. Nonprofits should not be politicized nonprofits for the benefit of politicians. The current law has proven its value for more than 60 years. We need your help to preserve it for the future.

We urge you to share this background with your board members and staff and encourage your nonprofit to sign on to the community sign-on letter. We will continue to shine a light on the growing numbers of charitable nonprofits, religious groups, and foundations that are publicly expressing their strong opposition to these efforts to politicize nonprofits. Make sure everyone understands how important it is for your nonprofit to remain a safe and trusted space, capable of bringing EVERYONE together to find the best solutions for your community, no matter who they voted for in an election.

Here are some pointers as you are sharing this information with others:

  • Don’t be distracted by headlines claiming this issue is about “freedom of religion” or “freedom of speech.” As many in the faith-based community have said in opposing these proposals, it's about neither.  Instead it’s about preserving the fundamental separation of church and state.
  • As the IRS spells out very clearly in Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations (Publication 1828; Rev. 8-2015), everyone, even a religious leader speaking to his or her congregation, has the right under the First Amendment to talk about issues of the day, and still retain the congregation’s tax-exempt status. But no charitable nonprofit – religious or otherwise – has the right to expect the public to subsidize partisan political action through tax deductions.

We believe the privileges of tax-exemption should be reserved for nonprofits that remain nonpartisan. It will be too easy, if the time-tested and sensible checks and balances contained in Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code are changed or relaxed, for power-hungry people to exploit charitable causes by transforming them into political campaign machines.

Let’s keep nonprofits nonpartisan!  

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