Now that Presidential election season is in full swing, I thought I’d highlight a recent article from CNN/Money about political donations. In case you’re not aware, your political donations are subject to a variety of limits and, thanks to post-Watergate reforms, you also can’t give anonymously. Oh, and guess what? You won’t be getting any help from the IRS if you decide to make a donation.
Limits on contributions
For 2008, you can donate $2,300 to a candidate per primary, and $2,300 per general election. You can also donate $28,500 to a national party, $10,000 per state or local party, and $5,000 per political action committee (PAC). If that’s just not enough for your tastes, you can make limit-free contributions to a so-called 527 group, which is a candidate lobbyist group that isn’t subject to the same regulations as PACs (e.g., the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004).
Whenever you make a campaign contributions, you have to provide your name, job, employer, and address. Moreover, once your contributions to a candidate, party, or PAC exceed $200, the campaign is required to pass your info to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) which then posts it on FEC.gov. A variety of other sites (such as OpenSecrets.org and FundRace.org) then display it in searchable databases.
Whether you donate to a candidate, a PAC, a party, or a 527 group, you won’t get any federal tax relief because political donations are not tax deductible. If you want to support your candidate of choice and receive a tax deduction, the best you can do is to donate instead to a charity that your candidate supports. For example, if your candidate supports universal healthcare, you can donate to Physicians for a National Health Program. Likewise, if you are strongly in the Pro-Life or Pro-Choice camps, you could donate to an appropriate charity whose views are in line with yours (and those of your preferred candidate).