Under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act), political committees, individuals and other entities that are not prohibited from making contributions (for example, partnerships, sole proprietorships and certain LLCs) may contribute a maximum of $5,000 per calendar year to an SSF. (This limit is the same for contributions received from multicandidate committees and those received from committees that have not yet qualified for multicandidate status.)
Contribution limits for 2019-2020
|Candidate committee||PAC† (SSF and nonconnected)||Party committee: state/district/local||Party committee: national||Additional national party committee accounts‡|
|Donor||Individual||$2,800* per election||$5,000 per year||$10,000 per year (combined)||$35,500* per year||$106,500* per account, per year|
|Candidate committee||$2,000 per election||$5,000 per year||Unlimited transfers||Unlimited transfers|
|PAC: multicandidate||$5,000 per election||$5,000 per year||$5,000 per year (combined)||$15,000 per year||$45,000 per account, per year|
|PAC: nonmulticandidate||$2,800* per election||$5,000 per year||$10,000 per year (combined)||$35,500* per year||$106,500* per account, per year|
|Party committee: state/district/local||$5,000 per election (combined)||$5,000 per year (combined)||Unlimited transfers||Unlimited transfers|
|Party committee: national||$5,000 per election**||$5,000 per year||Unlimited transfers||Unlimited transfers|
*Indexed for inflation in odd-numbered years.
†“PAC” here refers to a committee that makes contributions to other federal political committees. Independent-expenditure-only political committees (sometimes called “Super PACs”) may accept unlimited contributions, including from corporations and labor organizations.
‡The limits in this column apply to a national party committee’s accounts for: (i) the presidential nominating convention; (ii) election recounts and contests and other legal proceedings; and (iii) national party headquarters buildings. A party’s national committee, Senate campaign committee and House campaign committee are each considered separate national party committees with separate limits. Only a national party committee, not the parties’ national congressional campaign committees, may have an account for the presidential nominating convention.
**Additionally, a national party committee and its Senatorial campaign committee may contribute up to $49,600 combined per campaign to each Senate candidate.
Contributions from spouses
Spouses have separate contribution limits to an SSF, even if only one spouse has an income. A couple may make a joint contribution (part of which would be attributed to each spouse).
A joint contribution is a contribution that is made by more than one person using a single check or other written instrument. Although each individual has a separate contribution limit, joint contributors may combine their contributions, for example, by sending a check for $10,000 to an SSF. When making a joint contribution, each donor must sign either the check or a statement that accompanies the contribution.
If the check or an accompanying statement of attribution is not signed by each contributor, the entire contribution will be attributed only to the party who signed the check.
If the check or statement does not indicate how much should be attributed to each donor, the recipient committee must attribute the contribution to each signer in equal portions. For example, if a committee receives a $1,000 joint contribution signed by two individuals but with no written attribution, the committee must attribute a $500 contribution to each donor.
An SSF may request that a contribution be reattributed, and under certain circumstances, may presumptively reattribute the excessive portion of a contribution.
Exception: Partnerships and LLCs
Contributions from partnerships and certain LLCs are not considered joint contributions but do trigger special attribution requirements.
Reporting joint contributions
For the purposes of itemization, report a joint contribution as though the joint contributors had given separately. If a joint contribution does not indicate the amount to be attributed to each contributor, attribute equally among the contributors. As with any contribution from an individual, itemize the contributions on Schedule A for Line 11(a)(i) only if total contributions from that individual have aggregated over $200 for the calendar year.
$50 limit on anonymous contributions
An anonymous contribution of cash is limited to $50. If the SSF receives a larger anonymous contribution, the excess amount may be used for any lawful purpose unrelated to any federal election, campaign or candidate.
$100 limit on cash contributions
An SSF may not accept more than $100 in cash from any contributor. Amounts exceeding $100 must be promptly returned.
Date contribution is made vs. date of receipt
The date a contribution is made and the date the contribution is received are significant for purposes of the contribution limits and for reporting. It is important to understand the distinction.
Date contribution is received
The date of receipt is the date the recipient committee (or a person acting on the committee’s behalf) actually receives the contribution. This is the date used by the recipient committee for reporting purposes.
Date contribution is made
The date a contribution is made is the date the contributor relinquishes control over it. For example:
- A hand-delivered contribution is considered made on the date it is delivered by the contributor to the committee.
- A mailed contribution is made on the date of the postmark. If a committee wishes to rely on a postmark as evidence of the date a contribution was made, it must retain the envelope or a copy of it.
- An in-kind contribution is made on the date that the goods or services are provided by the contributor.
- A contribution made via the Internet is considered made on the date the contributor electronically authorizes the transaction.
Effect of date made for contributions received by SSF
The date made is significant for determining which calendar year contribution limit applies. For instance, if a contribution to the SSF is postmarked 12/31/2019 but received on 1/3/2020, the contribution would count against the contributor’s 2019 calendar year limit. In that instance, the SSF should retain a copy of the postmark to document the date made.