TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, September 30, 2012

WSJ: Is Your Political Donation Deductible?

WSJWeekend Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  Is Your Political Donation Deductible?, by Laura Saunders:

It is the height of election season, and campaign spending is setting new records. As in previous cycles, most of the giving has come from individuals.

For those people, tax questions abound. Which donations to political causes and campaigns are tax deductible? Which ones will be disclosed on the Internet — or reported to the IRS — and which will remain secret? Which could trigger a 35% gift tax?

A crazy quilt of federal tax and election laws makes simple answers elusive. "At best the rules are opaque, and at worst they're misleading," says Ellen Aprill, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who studies the area. The best approach, say experts, is to know the rudiments of this tricky area in order to identify the most effective donation strategies and avoid a few traps. ...

There are many ways to give politically to candidates and causes, depending on how much you value deductibility, disclosure or avoiding potential tangles with the IRS. Here are more details about common types of political contributions.

  • Donations to campaigns, parties and certain PACs
  • Donations to super PACs
  • Donations to social-welfare nonprofits
  • Dues to a nonprofit group such as a trade association
  • Donations to a nonprofit public charity

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