Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Since 1954, charities that are organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, as Americans for the Arts is, are prohibited from getting involved in political campaigns.

However, recent activity in Congress and from the Administration is attempting to remove this prohibition.

President Trump has stated his intention to end this prohibition both on the campaign trail and more recently during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. Republicans in Congress have likewise introduced legislation (S.264/H.R. 781, Free Speech Fairness Act) that would permit a tax-exempt organization to make certain statements related to a political campaign without losing its tax-exempt status. The bill has 53 cosponsors in the U.S. House.

Currently, charities are allowed to speak about issues, and their workers are free to speak in their personal capacity. Undoing the law would allow nonprofits also to endorse candidates.

Linked here is the letter to Congress signed by nearly 4,500 nonprofits opposing any changes to the current restrictions, so that the longstanding mission of nonprofits doesn’t become a political tool.