Congress Comes Closer to Repeal of Tax on Churches and Other Nonprofits

Congress appears near the repeal of a tax on churches and other nonprofit organizations that Southern Baptist entities and other opponents began calling for last year.

The House of Representatives voted 297-120 Tuesday (Dec. 17) for a spending bill that includes language rescinding a section of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that requires houses of worship and other nonprofits to pay a 21 percent tax on such employee benefits as parking and transportation. If not repealed, the highly criticized measure — which took effect Jan. 1, 2018 — would cost the charitable sector an estimated $1.7 billion in the next decade, according to foes of the law. It also would burden churches and others with accounting and compliances costs not previously required.

Negotiators from the House and Senate agreed on the year-end spending bill and the inclusion of the church tax repeal Dec. 16. Voting for the legislation in the House the next day were 218 Democrats and 79 Republicans.

It is anticipated the Senate will vote on the House-approved bill by Dec. 19, and President Trump is expected to sign it into law Dec. 20, according to the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

Russell Moore, the ERLC’s president, expressed gratitude for the House action and said he looks forward “to this burden being lifted from nonprofits around the country.”

“It’s not every day that Congress finds bipartisan areas of agreement,” Moore said in a news release. “This is essential progress in the right direction for an issue with bipartisan and bicameral support. Now it’s time for the Senate to finish the task and end this troublesome tax. Churches must not be seen as untapped sources of government revenue.”

O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, said, “The parking tax was always a bad idea, and we are thankful to see the U.S. House of Representatives act in a bipartisan manner to repeal this part of the tax reform law.

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Source: Baptist Press