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Electronic filing overview

Overview

There are two types of electronic filers, mandatory electronic filers and voluntary electronic filers.

Mandatory electronic filing

Electronic filing is mandatory for most committees when they reach certain levels of financial activity. Senate candidate committees and committees that support only Senate candidates must file by paper with the Secretary of the Senate. For all other committees, electronic filing is required if they receive contributions or make expenditures in excess of $50,000 in the current calendar year, or have reason to expect to do so.

If a committee actually exceeds the $50,000 threshold during a calendar year, it must file electronically for the remainder of that calendar year. A committee also automatically has reason to expect to exceed the threshold during the next two calendar years and must file electronically in those years as well.

Even if a committee is new and does not have any history of financial activity, it still has reason to expect to exceed the threshold, and must begin filing electronically, if:

  • At the end of the first quarter it has received contributions or made expenditures in excess of $12,500.
  • Halfway through the calendar year it has received contributions or made expenditures in excess of $25,000.

Candidate committees may be excepted under certain limited circumstances: A campaign committee that met or exceeded the $50,000 threshold and began filing electronically is not required to file electronically for the following two calendar years if it meets all three of the following requirements:

  • Has $50,000 or less in net debts outstanding on January 1 of the year following an election,
  • Anticipates terminating prior to the next election year and
  • Supports a candidate who has not qualified for the next election and does not intend to become a candidate in the next election.

Note that such committees must file electronically for the calendar year in which they exceeded the threshold.

If a committee is one of several committees authorized by a single candidate, it needs to combine its contributions and expenditures with those of all other authorized committees to determine if it meet thresholds for mandatory electronic filing.

Voluntary electronic filing

The FEC encourages committees to file electronically even if they aren’t required to. Once a committee voluntarily begins electronic filing it must continue to file electronically for the remainder of the calendar year. (In rare instances the Commission may find that “extraordinary and unforeseeable” circumstances make continued electronic filing impractical for voluntarily electronic filers.)

Senate candidates and committees must file by paper, but they may choose to file an unofficial electronic copy with the FEC to speed disclosure.

Ways to file electronically

Political committees and other filers may file reports using electronic filing software (like FECFile).A limited number of forms are also available as webforms.  

If a political committee or other filer voluntarily files electronically, they are required to continue filing electronically for the remainder of the calendar year. A limited exception to this rule allows some filers to choose to file certain web-based forms electronically without becoming electronic filers for the remainder of the year. Those forms are:

  • Form 5 (Report of Independent Expenditures Made and Contributions Received)
  • Form 9 (24-Hour Notice of Disbursements/Obligations for Electioneering Communications)

Getting an electronic filing password

To start filing electronically, filers need an FEC ID; registration requirements vary by committee type.

Only a committee treasurer or assistant treasurer can create an electronic filing password. If a committee is requesting a password for the first time, it can create one on FEC.gov. 

Request a new password anytime a committee appoints a new treasurer. For security, anytime a committee makes an electronic filing password request, that activity is logged by the Commission. Committees are notified of all account changes.

Passwords are encrypted. If a committee forgets a password, the FEC can’t look it up. Committees can reset passwords on FEC.gov.

Sign up for, retrieve or change an electronic filing password.

Creating an electronic filing

Create an electronic filing using the committee's software of choice. Committees that have filed on paper previously may need to enter additional information from past reports into the software. This ensures that data such as cash on hand, summary totals and aggregate amounts will be correct when the committee submits its electronic filing.

Keep software current. Always perform auto-updates when prompted.

Validating an electronic filing

A committee must validate its filing before submitting. Validate early and often. Validation finds problems the committee might not have noticed, and validating on a regular basis leaves committees with less risk of finding a long list of issues to deal with right before a filing deadline. The FEC’s filing system won’t accept reports that aren’t successfully validated.

Submitting an electronic filing

File as early as possible. Any problem — be it technical or a matter of non-familiarity with software — can be difficult to deal with during the rush of a deadline. Committees can choose to either upload your filing electronically or submit a report on a CD.

Electronic filings must be uploaded. Emailed reports will not be accepted.

When a committee uploads a filing to the FEC, the committee receives an instant email or fax confirming receipt of the report. It will include a validation number for the filing. It’s important that the committee keep this email or fax for its records. A committee can also find its filings in the campaign finance data section of this website.

Committees who do not get a receipt should not assume the FEC received their filings. Contact the Electronic Filing Office for support.

Submitting electronically: Upload filings electronically with filing software.

Submitting on CD: CD filings are subject to the same deadlines as paper filings.

A committee must include a signed copy of the signature page of its report (the first page of the report) with their filing if the committee files by CD. The committee can choose to mail a signed paper copy of the signature page along with your CD or include a separate digitized summary page on the CD.

The CD can contain only one report and no other files, except for a digitized, signed summary page. All data must have the .fec file extension.

Label the CD with the committee's email address, committee ID number and the report type. For example, person@place.com, C00123456, Year-End 2015.

  • Mail the CD to:
    Electronic Filing Office
    Federal Election Commission
    999 E Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20463

Amending an electronic filing

If a committee is an electronic filer, it's required to file all subsequent reports and documents electronically. This includes amendments to the Statement of Organization (Form 1). Note that some electronic filing software may show the first electronically filed Form 1 as "new" rather than "amended." However, if a Form 1 was previously filed, the Statement of Organization will be identified by the FEC as an amendment upon upload.