Political Donations Aren’t Tax Deductible?

This is a guest post by J. Money covering for me while I’m on vacation. J. Money writes for budgetsaresexy.com – A laid back finance blog of a guy just trying to spice things up a bit. He also finds budgets….well…sexy!  You can sign up to his feed here if you like what you see.

Man, thank goodness I didn’t shell out those 10G’s I was planning on sending to one of the political candidates.
But seriously, i had no idea you couldn’t write them off. I bet you used to be able to, but like always, someone (or a bunch of someones) ruined it for all of us.

It’s surely not the end of the world, and definitely shouldn’t be one of the top reasons to donate to a cause, but it did get me thinking. Especially considering i was just about to donate for the first time ever to a campaign! I would have just slapped it right into my “contributions” folder at home, an added it to next year’s tax numbers.

I guess it’s good that I subscribe to Money Magazine then ;) Their brief, and to the point, write up on this caught my eager eyes on my daily commute in this morning. It was titled, “Funding Your Candidate” (June, pg. 23) and shared 3 things to keep in mind:

1. You can give only so much.
There are actually caps on how much you can donate – imagine that! Here are the limits each person can donate for 2008 (they are adjusted every 2 years for inflation):

  • $2,300 per candidate, per primary
  • $2,300 per candidate, per general election
  • $28,500 to a national party
  • $10,000 per state or local party
  • $5,000 per political action committee (PAC)
  • UNLIMITED donations to a 527 – some sort of candidate lobby group. Maybe this is why I hear of people donating $100,000 here, $200,000 there?

2. Your info will go public.
W-O-W, never saw that one coming! (I’m being serious there, although to some of you, it will probably come across sarcastic.) Apparently there were some reforms after Watergate, and every time you make a contribution, you ALSO have to provide the following:

  • your name
  • your job
  • your employer
  • your address

Now, if your total donations are UNDER $200, then your info will just stay with the campaign. But, and a very interesting one indeed, if your contributions go OVER $200, your info then gets forwarded to the FEC, who then posts it on their website – FEC.gov !!! And then there is ANOTHER then, where it THEN gets picked up by sites like OpenSecrets.org, who put them in searchable databases!

3. No Federal tax deductions for any contribution.
We already covered this one, but Money does a good job of pointing another option out for those deductible-hungry citizens. And that is to donate the said money to a charity that your candidate supports. This way, you help them out, the charity out, and yourself out ;)

So, what will I be doing with this new found information? I’m gonna donate directly to my candidate of choice. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve never once done so in my lifetime, and since my budget only allows for amounts UNDER $200, I won’t have to get freaked out about my info all over the net.

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Filed Under: Taxes

About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.

Goran Web
Goran Web

I think limiting the amount that we can donate must be limited. It prevents people from giving too much in exchange for favours and saying its a donation.

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