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Remedying an excessive contribution to a nonconnected PAC

Depositing questionable contributions

If a committee receives a contribution that appears to be excessive or prohibited, the committee may have to refund it to the donor. Within 10 days, the treasurer must either return the questionable check to the donor or deposit it. Once the contribution is deposited, the treasurer must:

  • Avoid spending the questionable funds by keeping enough money in the committee’s account to cover all potential refunds;
  • Keep a written record explaining why the contribution may be illegal and include this explanation on its report if the contribution has to be itemized before its legality is established; and
  • If a check appears to exceed a contributor’s annual limit, seek a reattribution of the excessive portion or return it.

Excessive contributions: Reattributions

In order to correct an excessive contribution, a treasurer may seek a reattribution of the excessive portion to another contributor.

Requesting a reattribution

When requesting a reattribution, the treasurer asks the contributor:

  • Whether the contribution was intended to be a joint contribution from more than one person; or alternatively,
  • Whether the amounts attributed to participants in a joint contribution should be adjusted. (The amount is split equally between the donors unless they indicate a different division in writing.)

In either case, the treasurer must inform the contributor that he or she may instead request a refund of the excessive portion. The treasurer should also inform donors that a reattribution must be signed by each participating contributor.

Receive reattribution or make refund

A contribution is properly reattributed if the treasurer receives a statement signed by all contributors indicating the amount attributable to each donor. The treasurer must obtain the proper reattribution or refund the excessive portion within 60 days of the receipt of the original contribution.

Example of reattribution of joint contribution

A nonconnected committee receives a $6,000 check that is drawn on a joint account but signed by only one account holder. The treasurer deposits the contribution and seeks a reattribution by asking the account holders whether they intended the contribution to be a joint one, partially attributable to the second account holder, or whether the treasurer should refund the excessive $1,000. Within 60 days of receiving the original contribution, the treasurer receives a statement, signed by both contributors, reattributing $1,000 to the second account holder. The committee may now keep the full $6,000.

A nonconnected committee receives a $6,000 check that is drawn on a joint account but signed by only one account holder. The treasurer deposits the contribution and seeks a reattribution by asking the account holders whether they intended the contribution to be a joint one, partially attributable to the second account holder, or whether the treasurer should refund the excessive $1,000. Within 60 days of receiving the original contribution, the treasurer receives a statement, signed by both contributors, reattributing $1,000 to the second account holder. The committee may now keep the full $6,000.

Example of presumptive reattribution

A nonconnected committee receives a $6,000 check that is drawn on a joint account but signed by only one account holder. The treasurer deposits the check and attributes $5,000 to the signer and $1,000 to the other account holder. Within 60 days of receiving the original contribution, the treasurer sends a letter informing the contributors of the reattribution and of their right to a refund. Assuming neither contributor objects, the committee may now keep the full $6,000.

If the written instrument does not have more than one name imprinted on it, the committee may not make a presumptive reattribution, but the treasurer may ask the contributor whether the contribution was intended to be a joint contribution from more than one person. The treasurer must inform the contributor that he or she may instead request a refund of the excessive portion. The treasurer should also inform donors that a reattribution must be signed by each participating contributor.

Retain records and report

A committee must retain copies of reattributions for three years.

This section describes how to report contributions for which the committee has requested reattributions from contributors.

Receipt of original contribution

When itemizing a contribution that must be reattributed to correct an excessive amount, include a statement on Schedule A noting that a reattribution has been requested.

Receipt of reattribution

In the report covering the reporting period during which the reattribution is received, itemize as memo entries:

  • Information on the contribution as it was previously disclosed; and
  • Information on the contribution as it was reattributed, including the date the reattribution was received.

Refund of excessive portion

If the committee does not receive the reattribution, the committee must refund the excessive portion within 60 days of the treasurer’s receipt of the contribution. Disclose the refund on the next report.

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