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Three Things You Should Know About Political Donations

Written by Nickel - 7 Comments

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).

Privacy considerations

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.

Tax implications

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).

Published on June 23rd, 2008
Modified on July 6th, 2008 - 7 Comments
Filed under: Charity

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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7 Responses to “Three Things You Should Know About Political Donations”

  1. 1
    FrigidFinance Says:

    I would Like to note that Donations to the NRA are *NOT* tax deductible. They are not a non-profit corp and don’t claim to be.

  2. 2
    Ron@TheWisdomJournal Says:

    I give politicians enough money as it is. This year, in particular, there isn’t one that I would even offer a ham sandwich.

  3. 3
    "Mo" Money Says:

    I have never and probably won’t ever donated money to a candidate. Where do they get all that money, is it from large corporations?

  4. 4
    nickel Says:

    Frigid Finance: Duly noted (and corrected). Thanks!

  5. 5
    TSW Says:

    I don’t know how common this is, but I recently learned that in Ohio, political donations to candidates for state or local offices are deductible from state income taxes. Fairly specific, but if you’re looking for a tax break, it’s worth checking your particular state.

  6. 6
    g Says:

    Don’t do it!!! Your name/info will be put on so many lists for likeminded politicians/groups – and they all have there hand out…. I donated to McCain’s 2000 primary and I still get all kinds of requests from many GOP groups, even though I have requested that my name/info be removed from the list. The most annoying part is that I’m a Democrat: How do I explain to people that I get GW junk in the mail/email????

  7. 7
    Kevin (ReturnToManliness) Says:

    As a business owner, it is very difficult to give money to any one candidate. Once you do it, as g mentioned, they all have their hand out and NOT giving to all of them causes a HUGE concern later down the road. It has always been a point of contention between my partners and me, but we either agree to give to all or to none in any given particular election cycle. Good tips on the tax implications, though.

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