Last winter, the Secular Coalition for America, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and the American Humanist Association prioritized better enforcement of the Johnson Amendment by the Internal Revenue Service and began lobbying members of Congress on this issue. The IRS has been lax, to put it charitably, in enforcing this section of the tax law which states that no nonprofit organization, including places of worship, may endorse or oppose specific political candidates. Doing so should result in the loss of their nonprofit status.
House Appropriations Committee Increases IRS Enforcement Funding
SCA, FFRF, and AHA staff met with House members and with staff of the committee that writes the annual spending bill for the IRS. We asked them for additional funding for the IRS specifically for enforcement activities. This week the House Appropriations Committee revealed its 2023 spending bill for the IRS and the Department of the Treasury. The bill includes $682 million more for enforcement than did the 2022 spending bill. This is significant for an agency that has seen its budget cut by 19 percent in the last 12 years. The draft of this bill is the first step in a months-long legislative process before the final spending bill is passed. We will continue to advocate for this spending increase at each step and that better enforcement of the Johnson Amendment is prioritized.
“I’m delighted that the House Appropriations Committee has taken the first step toward giving the IRS the resources it needs to increase enforcement of the Johnson Amendment,” said SCA Executive Director Debbie Allen. “Holding even a small number of houses of worship responsible will send a message to many others about politicking from the pulpit. And I certainly appreciate the efforts by FFRF and AHA staff that got us to this stage in the process.”