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How to report

48-hour reports for independent expenditure filers

For each election in which a person who is not a political committee makes independent expenditures, the person shall aggregate its independent expenditures made in each calendar year to determine its reporting obligation. When persons, groups or organizations (not political committees) make independent expenditures that aggregate $10,000 or more during the 48-hour reporting period with respect to a given election, they file a 48-hour report using the Form 5. The 48-hour reporting period is for independent expenditures that are made in any calendar year, including non-election years, up to and including the 20th day before an election. The FEC must receive the 48-hour report within 48 hours after the communication is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated.

Each time subsequent independent expenditures relating to the same election aggregate an additional $10,000 or more, a new 48-hour report must be filed.

How to file

Paper filers may file by fax (202-219-0174) or email (

Electronic filers must file 48-hour reports electronically. If an independent expenditure filer has exceeded the electronic filing threshold, it must file using FEC online webforms or electronic filing software such as FECFile. While online webforms do not require an electronic password, a password is required to file using e-filing software such as FECFile. To obtain an electronic filing password, contact the Electronic Filing Office and provide the FEC ID number. If an independent expenditure filer has exceeded the electronic filing threshold and does not have an FEC ID number assigned, it must use an online webform to file the Form 5.

The filer must also disclose any independent expenditure(s) disclosed on a 24-hour report on its next Form 5 quarterly report.



Palm Trees, Inc. fills out the 48-hour report on the Form 5. It checks the box labeled “48-Hour Report” and enters coverage dates. The filer enters the amount of independent expenditures in this filing on Line 7. Mark Chapman completed the form, so he signs and dates the form at the bottom of the cover page.

Disclosing independent expenditures

To itemize independent expenditures, the filer will disclose the:

  • Payee
  • Date the independent expenditure was made
  • Amount
  • Purpose
  • Candidate supported or opposed, including the candidate’s name, office sought, and election for which the disbursement was made
  • Total amount expended or obligated in the aggregate during the calendar year per election, per office sought

Date made

The date that a communication is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated serves as the date that the independent expenditure is “made,” and the date a filer must use to determine whether the total amount of independent expenditures for a given election has, in the aggregate, reached or exceeded the reporting threshold.

Aggregating independent expenditures

Independent expenditures are aggregated toward the various reporting thresholds on a per-election basis, within the calendar year, per office sought (race).

The calculation of the aggregate amount of the independent expenditures must include both disbursements for independent expenditures and all contracts obligating funds for disbursements of independent expenditures.



Palm Trees, Inc. reports two independent expenditures that aggregate together to meet the 48-hour reporting requirements. It fills out Schedule 5-E with the vendors’ names and information, the amount of the independent expenditures, the dates the independent expenditures were publicly distributed, the aggregate for this race in this calendar year and clear purposes of expenditure. The filer also includes that the first IE was made to support Martha Washington in the 2018 general election for Virginia’s first congressional district. The second IE was made to oppose Frances Jones in the same race.

Reporting with FECFile

To create a 48-hour report, first create the quarterly report for the coverage period that includes the expenditure date(s) and enter the expenditure information into FECFile. Next, go to the Reports tab, right click in the white space, and select “New.” Choose “48-hour report (Form 5)” and click OK.

To add expenditures to a 48-hour report, go to the Reports tab and click on the 48-hour report. Go to the All Transactions tab and find the expenditure you want to add. Click on the expenditure, right click, and select “Add to 48-hour Report.”