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Churches and the IRS: Why Trump’s Call to Repeal the Johnson Amendment Makes Constitutional Sense

President Trump recently told faith leaders that he would “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, referring to then-Representative Lyndon Johnson’s sponsored legislation banning churches’ and other Section 501(c)(3) organizations’ political campaign speech.  As W & O attorney Ryan Oberly recently observed in Modern Healthcare’s article, the prohibition is controversial and difficult to enforce, given both the free speech and religious liberty constitutional interests at stake and the IRS’s questionable capability to enforce the law fairly.  Many religious organizations have openly flaunted the ban by endorsing or speaking against candidates, leaving others to wonder whether they should follow the letter of the law despite its dubious constitutional legitimacy.

A Healthy Dose of Charity: The Carle and Oswald Property Tax Exemption Appeals

The Illinois appellate courts continue grappling with a new statute intended to bring clarity to nonprofit hospitals’ qualification for property tax exemption.  May such qualification be established through a certain amount of charitable activities, shown in financial terms?  These two cases demonstrate that charitable property use – not just charitable ownership and activities – is a nonnegotiable requirement under the Illinois Constitution for all nonprofit property owners. 

Branching Out: Of Group Tax Exemptions and Other Section 501(c)(3) Organizational Structures for Related Organizations

Many nonprofit leaders start additional organizations for visionary or other reasons, such as to pursue a new tax-exempt mission, to develop regional chapters or groups, to appeal to a broader donor base, or to better address risk management issues.  Various organizational constellations may result, such as group tax exemption, integrated auxiliaries of a religious parent organization, or other related organizations that function within a range of accountability and responsiveness.  Each option carries certain tax and governance implications, as follows

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