The Idaho Nonprofit Center will bring you a quick round up, every two weeks, of issues relevant to Idaho's nonprofit sector.
In This Issue
- Policy Statement
- Johnson Amendment Survey Results
- Contacting Legislative Officials
- Sign Community Letter
- History of the Johnson Amendment
- Funding Politics
- 501-c-3 Status
- Federal Issues
- Charitable Deduction
- Keep Up with the News
- Past Issues
Idaho Nonprofit Center Policy Statement Regarding the Johnson Amendment
Recently, the Idaho Nonprofit Center sent out a survey to our members requesting feedback on the proposed repeal of the Johnson Amendment (H.R. 781 and S. 264), a federal law that prohibits 501(c) (3) organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Over 84% of survey respondents do not approve of the proposal to repeal and eliminate the Johnson Amendment.
Based on these results, and alongside thousands of nonprofits and state associations nationwide, the Idaho Nonprofit Center opposes the repeal or weakening of the Johnson Amendment.
The Idaho Nonprofit Center fully supports nonpartisanship in our sector and cannot support the weakening or removal of current federal tax law protections that prohibit 501(c) (3) organizations from endorsing, opposing, or contributing to political candidates.
Nonpartisanship is a cornerstone principle that strengthens public trust in our charitable community. This law protects the integrity and independence of charitable nonprofits and foundations. In turn, it creates an environment where the charitable community is free to solve community problems and work together above partisan divisiveness.
As such, while we oppose any legislation aimed at repealing or weakening the Johnson Amendment and we look forward to the opportunity to connect and educate our congressmen to the thousands of individuals impacted by this legislation in Idaho’s nonprofit sector.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, we encourage you to exercise your right both personally and professionally to contact our congressmen and senators and express your views on this issue.
Johnson Amendment Survey Results
According to the survey results received by members of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, data showed that members opposed the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
- 84% oppose the repeal of the Johnson Amendment
- 8% support the repeal of the Johnson Amendment
- 8% neutral on the repeal of the Johnson Amendment
Contacting Legislative Officials
Congressman Mike Simpson
- Contact resources
- If you would like to meet Congressman Simpson while he is in Idaho, please contact Julie Tensen at the Boise office at (208) 334-1953 or Julie.Tensen@mail.house.gov
Congressman Raul Labrador
- United States Congress
Room 1523, LHOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225 – 6611
- Meridian Office
33 East Broadway Avenue, Suite 251
Meridian, ID 83642
Phone: (208) 888 - 3188
Senator James E. Risch
- Contact resources
- 350 N. 9th St., Suite 302
Boise, Idaho 83702
- tel: 208-342-7985
Senator Mike Crapo
- United States Senate
Room 239, Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6142
- Boise Office
251 E. Front St., Suite 205
Boise ID, 83702
Phone: (208) 334-1776
Sign Community Letter
We encourage nonprofits to join in on the community letter, led by the National Council of Nonprofits. The community letter is an opportunity for nonprofits to show their support for nonpartisanship.
By signing this online document, the charitable community show their desire for “strongly opposing proposals that would politicize the charitable nonprofit and philanthropic community by repealing or weakening current federal tax law protections that prohibit 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing, opposing, or contributing to political candidates”
This community letter was written in support of nonprofits remaining with nonpartisanship.
We, along with the National Council of Nonprofits, ask you to also send out an Action Alert to Idaho's Representatives and Senators in support of nonpartisanship. Here’s what you can do right now:
- Sign your organization onto the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship … AND
- Share the letter broadly with your board members, your colleagues at other organizations, and others in your networks so the organizations they care about can join in this vital effort to preserve the protections in current law.
Sample Action Alert
Be Heard Now!
[ORGANIZATION SENDING OUT THE ACTION ALERT] has proudly joined the more than 2,000 (so far) nonprofits, foundations, and for-profit businesses from all 50 states, in signing onto the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship. This letter will be delivered to our U.S. Representatives and Senators to show them that charitable nonprofits, including religious institutions, foundations, and businesses that support our work are united in opposition to efforts to politicize our community.
Join with us in keeping partisan politics out of nonprofits today!
History of the Johnson Amendment
According to NPR, the “The Johnson Amendment regulates what tax-exempt organizations such as churches can do in the political arena.
“Under terms of the 1954 legislation (named for its principal sponsor, then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson), churches and other nonprofit organizations that are exempt from taxation "are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office”
What this means:
Nonprofits with a 501-c-3 status are required to maintain nonpartisanship within their organizations which keeps all funds donated pouring back into the mission, vision, and values, of the organizations rather than to political affiliations.
Nonprofits Looking to Fund Political Campaigns and Candidates
If churches or other 501-c-3 organizations want to fund political parties, there are a few options or ways to go about it. Nonprofits may gain a 501-c-4 status:
Churches are not required to have an IRS 501-c-3 status, but this does mean that donations to a church may or may not be tax deductible. As long as a church does not have 501-c-3 status they may speak freely and may also support and endorse political parties and candidates.
- This means donations are not tax deductible
- These nonprofits may use more of their budget to lobby
What Can Nonprofits do with a 501-c-3 Status?
The Foundation Group defines a charitable nonprofit as follows: “Charitable" is broadly defined as being established for purposes that are religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering of national or international amateur sports, or prevention of cruelty to animals and children”
These organizations are considered tax-exempt by the IRS. All donations made to 501-c-3 organizations are 100% tax deductible for those donating.
501(c)(3) organizations fall into one of three primary categories: public charities, private foundations, and private operating foundations.
501-c-3’s can lobby! According to the Center for Nonprofits, nonprofits may lobby up to these percentages:
Federal Issues to Watch
Potential health insurance repeal is dead
- On March 6th, House Republican leaders unveiled that legislation intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act.
- On March 23rd, 2017, the bill was postponed because there were not enough votes for the bill to be passed. On March 24, 2017, the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act was rejected by a House of Representatives.
Spending cuts and budget proposals
The White House released a preliminary fiscal blueprint regarding 2018 budget.
- This proposal asks for $54 billion in increased defense spending. This would then mean that domestic programs would take cuts to even out the increased spending.
- According to the National Council of Nonprofits, the President is asking Congress to cut “the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 13 percent, the Department of Health and Human Services by 18 percent, the State Department by 28 percent, and the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent”.
- This blueprint proposes to eliminate funding for several programs, including the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.
- The full itemized spending list isn’t expected to come out until May.
In order to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Charitable Deduction, John Lewis (D-GA) and Pat Tiberi (R-OH) introduced to Congress the House Concurrent Resolution 34.
This proposal “provides a historical timeline of the deduction, enacted into the federal tax code in 1917, and highlights the benefits to the arts, humanities, religious institutions, education, human services, environment, health programs, and many other subsectors, as well as recognizing the empowerment and force of individual philanthropy” - National Council of Nonprofits.
National Network to End Domestic Violence
“These programs have enhanced federal, tribal, state, and local responses to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, and supported lifesaving emergency shelters and services for domestic violence victims and other crime victims”. -National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)
- VAWA - According to the NNEDV, The Violence Against Women Act is our nation's response to domestic and sexual violence. “VAWA 2013 reauthorized and improved upon lifesaving services for all victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking - including Native women, immigrants, LGBT victims, college students and youth, and public housing residents” Learn more here.
- VOCA - The Victims of Crime Act established the Crime Victims Fund in in which victims are able to receive compensation and assistance in which they may need. Learn more here.
- FVPSA - The Family Violence Prevention and Service Act is a federal fund creating emergency shelters and assistance for families dealing with domestic violence. Learn more here.
According to the NNEDV, domestic violence shelters are facing budget cuts and reductions. Unfortunately, there is limited funding for victims facing domestic violence across the United States. Shelters are facing reduced staff, and fewer resources.
- Almost 80% of states reported that their programs were experiencing cuts or reduction in funding from local county and city sources.
- Approximately 90% of states reported that their programs were seeing decreases in private donations.
With an increase in the demand of domestic violence shelters across the United States (that are already continuing among limited budgets), shelters are struggling to stay open and victims are in need of immediate care and assistance.
Impact on Idaho
Currently in Idaho, there are various nonprofit organizations that dedicate their missions to helping and serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Some of these organizations include:
- Women and Children’s Alliance of Idaho
- Family Advocates
- Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
- Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center
- North Idaho Violence Prevention Center
These are just a few of the many domestic violence and sexual assault organizations that would be impacted by potential cuts in the budget.
“NNEDV’s 2014 National DV Counts Census found that on just one day, across the United States and U.S. Territories:
- 67,646 adults and children received services from domestic violence programs.
- 10,871 requests for services went unmet due to lack of resources”
What can you do
Each year Congress considers funding for each of these programs. Contact Congress to make your voice heard and take a stance for these programs. NNEDV also suggests:
Sign-up for NNEDV's action alerts so that you can contact Congress when it is most strategic.
Visit NNEDV's Take Action page for the latest news on Appropriations and how you can make a difference by contacting your members of Congress.
To keep track of funding and learn more about this issue click here.
Keeping Up with the News