Are Political Contributions Tax Deductible?

January 14, 2019 : Mike Slack

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 31, 2018.

If you made a contribution to a candidate or to a political party, campaign, or cause, you may be wondering if your political contributions are tax deductible. The answer is no – donations to political candidates are not tax deductible on your personal or business tax return. The same goes for campaign contributions.

Political Contributions Are Tax Deductible Like Charitable Donations, Right?

It’s not uncommon to mistake the tax deductibility of political contributions. We hear this question from time to time. The confusion usually arises over the difference between political contributions and charitable contributions. Just the word “donation” can be misleading because only some contributions, or donations, are actually tax deductible.

are political contributions tax deductible

Typically, deductible charitable contributions are those made to organizations that are tax-exempt under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This type of organization is specifically barred from attempting to influence legislation, or participating in any political campaign. Because of this, a political campaign or party will never fall under §501(c)(3). Therefore, political contributions cannot be treated as tax deductible charitable contributions.

Are Political Contributions Tax Deductible for a Business?

It’s true that businesses often have an interest in the outcomes of elections, and it shows when looking at their financial involvement in the political landscape. However, the tax code is very clear about political donations not being tax deductible — specifically stating in most cases no business expense deduction may be claimed for “any amount paid or incurred in connection with influencing legislation.”

This rule is so strict that it prevents political candidates from deducting their own out-of-pocket expenses incurred while running for office. Campaign expenses of an individual running for any political office or for re-election to any political office cannot be deducted. These expenses include registration fees, qualification and legal fees, as well as advertising.

So, Political Donations Aren’t Tax Deductible. What Is?

If you are looking for potential tax deductions, you may want to look elsewhere. Retirementmedical, and charitable contributions are a few opportunities to reduce your overall taxable income.  The Tax Pros at H&R Block can help. We can look at your situation and help you determine the deductions that apply to you.

Visit your local H&R Block office for more details.

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Mike Slack

Mike Slack

The Tax Institute, H&R Block

Mike Slack, JD, EA, is a senior tax research analyst at The Tax Institute. Mike leads research teams focused on business and investment tax issues.

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