Friday, February 15, 2019

Ellen Aprill's Review of Hamburger's "Liberal Suppression: Section 501(c)(3) and the Taxation of Speech"

Ellen Aprill (Loyola-LA) recently posted a review of Professor Philip Hamburger's (Columbia) "Liberal Suppression: Section 501(c)(3) and the Taxation of Speech" at     HistPhil, which is "a web publication on the history of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, with a particular emphasis on how history can shed light on contemporary philanthropic issues and practice."   Prof. Hamburger's book argues that, as a constitutional law matter,


...  theopolitical fears about the political speech of churches and related organizations underlay the adoption, in 1934 and 1954, of section 501(c)(3)’s speech limits. He thereby shows that the speech restrictions have been part of a broad majority assault on minority rights and that they are grossly unconstitutional. Ellen Aprill
Prof. Aprill bring a tax lens to this issue, highlighting the history of the Johnson Amendment.   The review introduces readers who might not be familiar with the public subsidy theory of exemption to a different approach to the Constitutionality issues and highlights much of the tax-focused scholarship in the area.

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I, for one, am indebted to Professor Aprill's review of "Liberal Suppression." I started reading the book and put it aside because it seemed to me to be angry in tone. I intend to continue my reading with Prof. Aprill's review in mind and wondering whether there's a middle course to be navigated between: 1) removing restrictions on 501(c)(3) organizations on the one hand (Hamburger); and 2) leaving them in place while instituting a universal federal tax deduction or tax credit for charitable gifts (Aprill).

Posted by: Michael L. Wyland | Feb 17, 2019 2:15:00 PM

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