Tax bill’s repeal of ‘Johnson Amendment’ could cost taxpayers more than $1 billion

By Paul Singer

A provision in the tax bill to allow churches to be more directly engaged in politics could cost the U.S. government hundreds of millions of dollars, congressional experts say, because some political donors would shift their money to tax-exempt charities.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved a sweeping overhaul of the tax code Thursday, including a provision to do away with the “Johnson Amendment,” a 1954 provision that forbids non-profit charities — called 501(c)(3)s  — from endorsing political candidates.

President Trump has also promised to undo the Johnson Amendment through his executive powers.

When the tax bill was introduced last week, it included language that would ensure churches would not be deemed to have engaged in political activity “because of the content of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings.” On Thursday the committee expanded that provision to all 501(c)(3) charities.

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