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Are Political Contributions Tax Deductible?

by | Jun 1, 2024 | Tax planning | 0 comments

When election season arrives, it may appear like news and commercials regarding political campaigns, candidates, and elections are ubiquitous. If you intend to give money, time, or effort to a political campaign, you may be wondering, “Are political contributions tax-deductible?”

No. The IRS is quite clear that money donated to a candidate or political party cannot be deducted from your taxes.

The following list contains instances of things the IRS thinks is not tax deductible. If you have given contributions, donations, or payments for any of these, the amount cannot be deducted from your taxes.

  • A political candidate
  • A political party
  • A campaign committee
  • A newsletter fund
  • Advertisements in convention bulletins
  • Admission to dinners or programs that benefit a political party or political candidate
  • Political Action Committees (PACs)

Are political contributions tax-deductible for my business?

No. Political contributions, donations, and payments cannot be deducted from your business’s tax return.

But I thought donations were tax-deductible?

While charity gifts are normally tax deductible, contributions to political groups or politicians are not. If you’re not sure whether the charity you want to donate to qualifies, the IRS has a Tax-Exempt charity Search Tool.

Most years, you must itemize your deductions in order to deduct charitable gifts from your personal income tax. Except for 2020, you can deduct up to $300 per tax return in qualifying monetary donations if you use the standard deduction. For 2021, this sum is up to $600 per tax return for married couples filing jointly and $300 for other filing statuses.

  • Typically, any charitable gift deductions will be listed on Form 1040, Schedule A.
  • You may also use apps like ItsDeductible to monitor your deductions throughout the year and import them into your return when you’re ready to file online.

Common charity gift deductions include money or property given to:

  • Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other qualifying religious institutions.
  • Federal, state, or municipal governments, if your gift is entirely for the public good and does not aim to influence legislation.
  • Qualified non-profit schools and hospitals
  • Qualified non-profit organizations include the American Red Cross, United Way, Girl Scouts of America, and Boy Scouts of America.

Common examples of what cannot be included in charity gift deductions include money or property given to:

  • Groups whose mission is to campaign for legislative changes
  • Political organizations or candidates seeking public office
  • Civic Leagues, Social and Sports Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, and Labor Unions
  • Groups run for personal profit
  • Country clubs, lodges, fraternal orders, homeowners’ associations, or comparable organizations

What if I volunteer for a political campaign? Can I deduct my expenses?

No. If you provide time or money to a political campaign, candidate, political action committee (PAC), or any other body that aims to influence legislation, any expenses related to such labor are not tax deductible.

In contrast, all out-of-pocket costs incurred when volunteering for a qualifying nonprofit charity organization are tax deductible.

  • It is vital to understand that the value of time spent volunteering for a charitable organization cannot be deducted from your taxes.
  • You also cannot deduct the cost of any services you may have rendered to a charity organization.

What about electing to give $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign?

You may have spotted or ticked the option on your Form 1040 asking if you want to contribute $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. If you tick this option, the money given to presidential candidates who choose to use those funds will not come from your pocket. That $3 does not come out of your refund. If you wish to support this process by checking the box, that’s OK, but it won’t affect your taxes or deductions.

What is an in-kind contribution? Is an in-kind political contribution tax-deductible?

An “in-kind contribution” is any contribution other than a financial payment, such as giving:

  • tangible gifts
  • services
  • your time

Political contributions, whether in the form of money or in-kind donations, are not tax deductible. However, in-kind gifts of items to qualifying organizations are deductible in the same way as monetary donations.


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