This article is a part of a series called The Advocate. This series will look at ways we at Habitat-SKC are joining the national conversation around affordable housing and supporting legislation that puts decent, accessible housing within everyone’s reach. To follow what we’re doing, you can search The Advocate tag.
The guiding vision for all Habitat for Humanity organizations around the globe is “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Keeping with our vision, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County has an open-door policy. All who believe that everyone needs a decent, affordable place to live are welcome to help with the work, regardless of race, religion, age, gender, political views or any of the other distinctions that too often divide people.
Habitat for Humanity SKC believes that non-partisanship is vital to the work we do in addition to the work of the charitable community as a whole. The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code that allows non-profit organizations registered as 501(c)(3) to have tax-exempt status and can receive tax-deductible donations in exchange for agreeing to not engage in “any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” This should not be viewed as a restriction of what we can or cannot do, but as a fundamental asset that protects non-profits from political influence. This ensures transparency, and that all money donated to Habitat and other 501(c)(3) organizations will not be used for partisan purposes. It’s crucial to ensuring the trust and confidence of the communities we serve.
The proposed legislation to repeal the Johnson Amendment, would provide a dangerous loophole allowing political funds to be channeled through a non-profit organization and make political contributions tax-deductible. 501(c)(3) organizations do not have the same financial disclosure requirements as other organizations, the proposed measure could provide a means for political donors to avoid campaign contribution disclosure laws. This has the potential to negatively impact people’s willingness to contribute donations to non-profits over concerns of whether their money is being used for ulterior motives such as funding campaigns instead of benefiting the people the non-profit is dedicated to helping.
The Johnson Amendment does not restrict us from engaging in all political activities; government policies have a direct impact on the work that we do such as funding, surplus land use, zoning, permits, etc. Our advocacy efforts are focused around the issues and are not guided by political candidates or parties. We are a safe space for people to come together as one with a common purpose of improving the lives of those in our community and around the world through affordable, decent housing.
Habitat encourages you to reach out to your representatives and let them know that you stand with non-profits and want to keep them non-partisan.
For more information on this topic go to givevoice.org.