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Reporting independent expenditures on Form 3X

A federally registered political committee reports independent expenditures on Schedule E of Form 3X. A political committee must itemize each independent expenditure which exceeds $200 or which, when added to previous independent expenditures made on behalf of (or in opposition to) the same candidate, aggregates over $200 during a calendar year. (Independent expenditures of $200 or less must be subtotaled and reported as unitemized expenditures on Schedule E.)

Filing reports

Regularly-scheduled reports

Committees must report, in their regularly scheduled report on Schedule E of Form 3X, all independent expenditures made which aggregate over $200 in a calendar year. The report must be filed no later than the filing date of the committee’s next regularly scheduled report.

24-Hour and 48-Hour reports

In some circumstances, a political committee may need to file specific and separate reports of independent expenditures. These are called 24- and 48-Hour reports.

24-Hour reports

After the 20th day but more than 24 hours before an election, political committees must report any independent expenditures with an aggregate value of $1,000 or more with respect to a given election.

24-Hour reports (Form 3X, Schedule E) are due within 24 hours of each qualifying independent expenditure. This means that reports are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the following day after the expenditure was “publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated.”

Political committees will also report these expenditures on Schedule E of their next regularly scheduled Form 3X.

Access the Form 3X, Schedule E PDF and instructions.

48-Hour reports

At any time during a calendar year through the 20th day before an election, political committees must report each time it makes independent expenditures with an aggregate value of $10,000 or more with respect to a given election.

48-Hour reports (Form 3X, Schedule E) are due within 48 hours of each qualifying independent expenditure. This means that reports are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second day after the expenditure was “publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated.”

Political committees will also report these expenditures on Schedule E of their next regularly scheduled Form 3X.

Access the Form 3X, Schedule E PDF and instructions.

Aggregating independent expenditures

For 24- and 48-Hour reports, a political committee will add up (aggregate) the money it spends on independent expenditures to determine whether it must file these reports. Aggregate on a per-election and per-office basis within each calendar year. For example:

  • Do aggregate an independent expenditure made on behalf of a candidate with one made against his or her opponent.
  • Don't aggregate an independent expenditure made on behalf of a Senate candidate with an independent expenditure made on behalf of a House candidate.
  • Don't aggregate two independent expenditures made on behalf of the same candidate in different elections (for example, if one is during a primary election and the other is during a general election).

Multistate independent expenditures

When an independent expenditure is made in support of or opposition to a presidential primary candidate and is publicly distributed or otherwise disseminated in six or more states but does not refer to any particular state, the reporting requirements for multistate independent expenditures apply. For independent expenditures distributed in fewer than six states, there is no change in reporting requirements.

Certification

Schedule E requires a certification, under penalty of perjury, that the expenditure meets the standards for being considered independent (e.g. not coordinated).

Date made

An independent expenditure is considered made on the date that the communication is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated. Independent expenditures such as yard signs, mini-billboards, handbills, t-shirts, hats and buttons are “publicly disseminated on any reasonable date starting with the date the filer receives or exercises control over the items in the usual and normal course of dissemination, up to and including the date that the communications are actually disseminated to the public.” Independent expenditures publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated prior to payment should be disclosed as memo entries. Political committees list these entries on Schedule E and on Schedule D as a reportable debt.