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Forum Policy Update: 5/15/17

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Forum Policy Update is a bi-weekly update for Forum members covering public policy issues impacting the philanthropic sector. As the Forum continues to increase our level of engagement on public policy matters, we will use these updates as one of the regular methods of keeping our members educated, informed and poised to take action.

Capitol Hill: Forum Submits Statement in Support of Johnson Amendment

Last week, subcommittees of the House Oversight Committee held a hearing focused on the Johnson Amendment’s effect on churches’ and other nonprofit organizations’ freedom of speech. Forum staff attended the hearing and Forum President and CEO David Biemesderfer submitted a statement for the hearing record expressing the Forum’s continued support for the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment is a 1954 amendment to the tax code that prohibits 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations from participating in political campaigns (specifically, supporting or opposing a candidate). The purpose of the law is to prevent tax-deductible money from being used to support or oppose candidates for public office. The Johnson Amendment does not prohibit all electoral activity, and 501(c)(3) organizations may still actively participate in the election process. The Forum’s position and statement can be viewed here.

Forum Joins Giving100 Coalition to Support Charitable Deduction for All Taxpayers

The Forum has joined Giving100, a coalition working to encourage members of Congress and the Administration to expand the charitable deduction to all American taxpayers. The Forum’s board of directors recently approved the Forum’s support of such a “universal” charitable deduction (read the Forum’s new position on the charitable deduction). We encourage our members to considering joining the Forum in adding your organization’s name to the Giving100 Champion’s Wall. The charitable deduction, which provides a tax deduction for contributions to nonprofit organizations, has been in place for 100 years but is only available to roughly one-third of all Americans. Several provisions in recent tax reform proposals would severely reduce the number of taxpayers who would use the charitable deduction, resulting in a decrease in charitable giving of 10-20%, according to several estimates. Learn more about Giving100.

Excise Tax Bill Re-introduced in the House

On May 4, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) introduced legislation to modify the excise tax on investment income of private foundations by moving to a flat rate of 1%. The bill, H.R. 2386, has bipartisan support. Aside from Paulsen, additional co-sponsors include; Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), Rep. George Holding (R-NC) and Rep. Richard Nolan (D-MN).The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means and Budget committees. The Forum supports simplification of the private foundation excise tax on net investment income to a revenue-neutral flat rate. Visit the Forum’s website for more information and resources.

Let Us Know!

We want to hear from you! Public policy issues happening in one state today may be happening in another state tomorrow. The power of our network and the entire sector is enhanced when we share information. If you have any state policy developments, please share them with Jay Hutchins, the Forum’s Association Director of Policy.

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