If you’re in the nonprofit sector, you’re almost certainly aware of the Johnson Amendment. If you’re not, now is a good time to familiarize yourself with this provision to the U.S. tax code. Named for then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, who introduced it in 1954, it prohibits 501(c)3 organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Violators of the amendment risk loss of tax-exempt status.
For more than 60 years, remaining nonpartisan – that is, not endorsing or contributing to candidates – has been vital to the work of charitable nonprofits. It enables organizations to address community challenges and welcome the problem-solving skills of all residents, without the distraction of party labels. It also screens out doubts and suspicions regarding ulterior partisan motives of charitable organizations, and enables organizations to work with elected officials of all parties at the local, state, and federal levels to address community needs.
The Johnson Amendment was uncontroversial when the U.S. tax code was last rewritten under President Ronald Reagan in 1986, but the provision came under attack during the recent tax code rewrite. This week, as Congressional leaders write the bill to fund the government through the current fiscal year, the Johnson Amendment is again on elected officials’ radar. It is expected that attempts will be made to attach a rider to the omnibus spending bill that would weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment.
The National Council of Nonprofits, which represents 40 state nonprofit associations, has come out strongly against repeal of the Johnson Amendment. So has Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, foundations and corporations. Even if your business is not a nonprofit, we urge you to consider the impact that removal of the Johnson Amendment could have on future elections, and how it could interfere with the work of nonpartisan nonprofits in your community.
A number of nonprofits have signed the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship, including the Wyoming Nonprofit Network. Contact the Network for more information on this important issue.
Align Board Member Tucker Fagan named Person of the Year
Align leadership looked on proudly on Friday night when Tucker Fagan was honored by the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce as the 2017 Person of the Year. The retired colonel and former CEO of the Wyoming Business Council was recognized by former U.S. Rep Cynthia Lummis, for whom Fagan served as chief of staff for 8 years. Fagan is a member of Align’s Board of Directors.
“He is one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met,” Lummis said in her speech. “He has advised presidents, Joint Chiefs of Staff, generals, the general chairman of Cheyenne Frontier Days and everything in between.”
We would like to thank Tucker for his service, both to our community and our country.
– The Align Team