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Remedying excessive contributions received by an SSF

Depositing questionable contributions

If an SSF receives a contribution that appears to be excessive, 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 Schedule A if the contribution has to be itemized before its legality is established.

If a check appears to exceed a contributor’s annual limit, seek a reattribution of the excessive portion, following the instructions on this page, or return it.

If a check appears to come from a prohibited source, confirm its legality or return it.

Excessive contributions: Reattributions

Presumptive reattribution

In some cases, an SSF may correct an excessive contribution by presumptively reattributing the excessive portion.

When an SSF receives an excessive contribution made via a written instrument with more than one individual’s name imprinted on it, but with only one signature, the SSF may attribute the permissible portion to the signer. The SSF may make a presumptive reattribution of the excessive portion to the other individual whose name is imprinted on the written instrument without obtaining a second signature, so long as the reattribution does not cause the contributor to exceed any other contribution limit.

Within 60 days of receipt of the contribution, the treasurer must notify the contributors of how the contribution was reattributed and that the contributors may request a refund of the excessive portion of the contribution if it was not intended to be a joint contribution.

Requested reattribution

In other situations where a presumptive reattribution is not permitted, the treasurer may request a reattribution from the contributor by asking:

  • 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, within 60 days of the treasurer’s receipt of the contribution, be signed by each participating contributor and provided to the treasurer.

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.


A multicandidate SSF 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.

If the SSF had not received the reattribution, the treasurer would have had to refund the excessive amount within the 60-day period.

Reporting reattributions

This section describes how to report contributions which the committee has presumptively reattributed or 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 period during which the reattribution is received, itemize as memo entries on Schedule A:

  • 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; and
  • For presumptive reattributions, note "presumptive reattribution."


The excessive contribution ($6,000) is recorded in the reporting period in which it was received. Then, in the report covering the period during which the reattribution is received, the initial contribution ($6,000) is reported as a memo entry followed by the portions reattributed between the original contributor and his spouse.

Refund of excessive portion

If the SSF 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.

Keep verification records

The SSF must also keep documentation for each reattribution to verify it was received within the 60-day time limit.

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