Saturday, July 1, 2017

House Republicans propose big change to tax code for churches — could transform future elections

Republican members of the House of Representatives are working to implement provisions that would allow church leaders to openly advocate for politicians and political causes without fear of risking their church’s tax-exempt status.
Under the Johnson Amendment, a law named after then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), religious leaders who openly advocate for politicians or political groups could have their church’s tax-exempt status removed by the IRS, forcing the church to pay taxes as though it were a business. Because many state taxes are also linked to the IRS’ determination of a church’s nonprofit status, churches who lose their federal tax-exempt status often must pay state taxes as well.
The Associated Press reported Friday House Republicans are working to effectively gut the Johnson Amendment, which was approved by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954, by cutting off the funding used to enforce it. The House Appropriations Committee included the provision in a new bill that would fund the Treasury Department and other agencies and subsequently passed the legislation. It will have to be approved by the full House and Senate before making its way to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
Republicans have been unsuccessful in garnering enough support to reverse the law entirely for more than two decades. READ MORE