Nonprofit New York’s Response to the House Ways and Means Committee

Read Nonprofit New York's response to the House Ways and Means Committee regarding its examination of political activity by organizations exempt from federal tax pursuant to Section 501(c)(3).

For questions, please contact Chai Jindasurat-Yasui, VP of Policy at

Sent via email to [email protected] 

September 8, 2023 

The Honorable Jason Smith, Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means 

The Honorable David Schweikert, Chair, House Subcommittee on Oversight 

RE: Request for Information: Understanding and Examining the Political Activities of Tax-Exempt Organizations under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code 

Dear Chair Smith and Chair Schweikert, 

On behalf of Nonprofit New York, I write to respond to the House Ways and Means Committee’s (the Committee) request for information to understand and examine the political activities of tax-exempt organizations under Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code issued on August 14, 2023. 

Nonprofit New York is a membership organization of nearly 1,000 not-for-profit corporations in the greater New York City area. Our members are primarily 501(c)(3) public charities, representing all subsectors and organizational sizes. Our membership also includes a range of 501(c)(3) private foundations based in the New York City area. Some of our 501(c)(3) members have 501(c)(4) affiliates, however our policy efforts and general expertise centers 501(c)(3) entities as they comprise the majority of our members. Our responses focus primarily on the Committee’s questions regarding 501(c)(3) organizations. 

Nonprofit New York champions and strengthens nonprofits through capacity building and advocacy to cultivate a unified, just, and powerful sector. We are also proud members of the National Council of Nonprofits and support the overarching principles NCN promoted in their letter to the Committee on September 5, 2023: 

  • 501(c)(3) nonprofits, commonly referred to as “charitable,” are nonpartisan in law, fact, and culture. 501(c)(3)s are committed to remaining nonpartisan to ensure their integrity and impact. 
  • All honest efforts to protect the sector from encroaching partisanship are welcome.
  • Conflation breeds confusion - when vague, undefined terms like “political advocacy” and “political nonprofit” are used, the public is justifiably confused.
  • Charitable nonprofits and civic engagement are synonymous. 

Nonprofit organizations are often closest to community strengths and concerns, as trusted resources and service providers. At Nonprofit New York, we believe nonprofits have an important role in the policymaking process under permissible advocacy and lobbying rules; elected officials have a responsibility to engage with a broad range of constituents; and policy that reflects community expertise and perspective will be effective. Nonprofit New York is committed to promoting robust and permissible nonprofit advocacy and supporting nonprofits in their role to strengthen our democracy. 

We know this work and the health of our sector requires public trust. Since 1954, section 501(c)(3) of the tax code has protected nonpartisan nonprofit, faith-based, and philanthropic organizations from partisanship through the Johnson Amendment. This amendment requires 501(c)(3) organizations to refrain from participating or intervening in electoral campaigns in order to maintain tax-exempt status. Nonprofit New York and our sector colleagues fully support the nonpartisan requirement and prohibition of work designed to affect the outcome of an election of Section 501(c)(3) as a pillar of maintaining public trust and protecting charitable organizations from politicization and the misuse of contributions. 

We welcome the opportunity to comment on ways our federal partners can help ensure public trust in our institutions and improve enforcement mechanisms to identify how “dark money” may be harming our democracy.

Read the Full Response Here