May 4, 2017 •
President Signs Executive Order Seeking to Allow More Political Activity from Tax-Exempt Religious Institutions Without Losing Their Tax-Exempt Status
President Trump signed an executive order today for the purpose of allowing religious institutions to engage more directly in political activity without losing their tax-exempt status.
Federal law prohibits tax-exempt religious and charitable institutions from specifically supporting, opposing, or endorsing political candidates or risk losing their tax-exempt status. Today’s order, named the Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty, does not address charitable institutions covered under the same federal law.
The executive order directs the Department of the Treasury to “not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury.” The order defines “adverse action” as “the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.”
Additionally, the order directs the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under” the Affordable Care Act.
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