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  • FEC Record: Reporting

Reports due in 2011

January 3, 2011

This article on filing requirements for 2011 is supplemented by the reporting tables available at

Notification of filing deadlines

In addition to publishing this article, the Commission notifies committees of filing deadlines on its website, via its automated Faxline and through reporting reminders called prior notices. Prior notices are distributed exclusively by email. For that reason, it is important that every committee update its Statement of Organization (FEC Form 1) to disclose a current email address. To amend Form 1, electronic filers must submit Form 1 filled out in its entirety. Paper filers should include only the committee’s name, address, FEC identification number and the updated or changed portions of the form.

Treasurer’s responsibilities

The Commission provides reminders of upcoming filing dates as a courtesy to help committees comply with the filing deadlines set forth in the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations. Committee treasurers must comply with all applicable filing deadlines established by law, and the lack of prior notice does not constitute an excuse for failing to comply with any filing deadline. Accordingly, reports filed by methods other than registered, certified or overnight mail (see below), or electronically, must be received by the Commission’s (or the Secretary of the Senate Public Records Office’s) close of business on the last business day before the deadline.

Filing electronically

Under the Commission’s mandatory electronic filing regulations, individuals and organizations that receive contributions or make expenditures, including independent expenditures, in excess of $50,000 in a calendar year—or have reason to expect to do so—must file all reports and statements with the FEC electronically. FN1 Reports filed electronically must be received and validated by the Commission by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard/Daylight Time on the applicable filing deadline. Electronic filers who instead file on paper or submit an electronic report that does not pass the Commission’s validation program by the filing deadline will be considered nonfilers and may be subject to enforcement actions, including administrative fines. 11 CFR 104.18(e).

Senate committees and other committees that file with the Secretary of the Senate are not subject to the mandatory electronic filing rules, but may file an unofficial copy of their reports with the Commission in order to speed disclosure.

The Commission’s electronic filing software, FECFile, is free and can be downloaded from the FEC’s website. FECFile Version is available for download from the FEC website. All reports filed after November 15, 2010, must be filed in Format Version Reports filed in previous formats will not be accepted. Filers may also use commercial or privately developed software as long as the software meets the Commission’s format specifications, which are available on the Commission’s website. Committees using commercial software should contact their vendors for more information about the Commission’s latest software release.

Timely filing for paper filers

Registered and certified mail. Reports sent by registered or certified mail must be postmarked on or before the mailing deadline to be considered timely filed. A committee sending its reports by certified or registered mail should keep its mailing receipt with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark as proof of filing because the USPS does not keep complete records of items sent by certified mail. See 2 U.S.C. § 434(a)(5) and 11 CFR 104.5(e).

Overnight mail. Reports filed via overnight mail [FN2] will be considered timely filed if the report is received by the delivery service on or before the mailing deadline. A committee sending its reports by Express or Priority Mail, or by an overnight delivery service, should keep its proof of mailing or other means of transmittal of its reports. See 2 U.S.C. § 434(a)(5) and 11 CFR 104.5(e).

Other means of filing. Reports sent by other means—including first class mail and courier—must be received by the FEC (or the Secretary of the Senate Public Records Office) before close of business on the filing deadline. See 11 CFR 100.19 and 104.5(e).

Paper forms are available for downloading at the FEC’s website and from FEC Faxline, the agency’s automated fax system (202/501-3413). The 2011 reporting schedule is also available on the FEC’s website (, and from Faxline. For more information on reporting, call the FEC at 800/424-9530 or 202/694-1100.

Year-End reports covering 2010 activity

All committees must file a 2010 year-end report due January 31, 2011. The coverage and reporting dates are found in the chart at

Reports covering 2011 activity

To find out which reports your committee must file in 2011, check the Guide to 2011 Reporting at Please note that committees active in special elections in 2011 may have to file additional special election reports, as explained.

Authorized committees of c andidates

House and Senate candidates. All campaigns that have a reporting obligation must file quarterly reports in 2011. 11 CFR 104.5(a)(1). Generally, an individual becomes a candidate for federal office, thus triggering registration and reporting obligations, when his or her campaign exceeds $5,000 in either contributions received or expenditures made. If the campaign has not exceeded the $5,000 threshold, it is not required to file reports. See 11 CFR 100.3(a)(1). See also 11 CFR 100.3(a)(2) and (3). Principal campaign committees of candidates who ran in past elections or are running in future elections must also file quarterly reports in 2011. A committee that wishes to stop filing reports with the FEC must file a termination report with the Commission or the Secretary of the Senate Public Records Office, as appropriate. See 11 CFR 102.3. Committees must continue filing reports until the Commission notifies them in writing that their termination report has been accepted.

Presidential candidates. All presidential committees must file on either a monthly or a quarterly schedule in 2011. Presidential committees able to change their reporting schedule and that wish to do so are required to notify the Commission in writing. 11 CFR 104.5(b)(2). Electronic filers must file this request electronically. After filing this notice of change in filing frequency with the Commission and receiving an approval notice from the Commission, all future reports must follow the new filing schedule.

State, district and local party committees

State, district and local party committees that engage in certain levels of “federal election activity” must file on a monthly schedule. See 11 CFR 300.36(b) and (c)(1). Committees that do not engage in reportable “federal election activity” may file on a semi-annual basis in 2011. See 11 CFR 104.5(c)(2)(i).

National party committees

National committees of political parties must file on a monthly schedule in all years. 2 U.S.C. § 434(a)(4) (B) and 11 CFR 104.5(c).

Political action committees

PACs (separate segregated funds and nonconnected committees) that filed on a quarterly basis in 2010 file on a semi-annual basis in 2011. 11 CFR 104.5(c)(2). Monthly filers continue on the monthly schedule. PACs may change their filing schedule, but must first notify the Commission in writing. Electronic filers must file this request electronically. A committee may change its filing frequency only once a year, after giving notice of change in filing frequency to the Commission. The committee will receive a letter indicating the Commission’s acknowledgment of the request. All future reports must follow the new filing frequency. 11 CFR 104.5(c).

Where to file

Committee treasurers must file campaign finance reports with the appropriate federal office, as discussed below. State filing requirements also apply to campaign finance reports filed by the principal campaign committees of candidates seeking office in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands and to reports filed by PACs and party committees that support these candidates. 2 U.S.C. §439(a)(2)(B).

House candidate committees. Principal campaign committees of House candidates file with the FEC. 11 CFR 105.1.

Senate candidate committees. Principal campaign committees of Senate candidates file with the Secretary of the Senate Public Records Office. 11 CFR 105.2.

Presidential committees. Principal campaign committees of presidential candidates file with the FEC. 11 CFR 105.3.

Candidate committees with more than one authorized committee

If a campaign includes more than one authorized committee, the principal campaign committee files, with its own report, a consolidated report of receipts and disbursements (FEC Form 3Z) showing its own activity as well as the activity of all other authorized committees of the candidate. 11 CFR 104.3(f).

PACs and party committees

Generally, PACs and party committees file with the FEC. However, committees that support only Senate candidates file with the Secretary of the Senate Public Records Office, as do the national Senatorial campaign committees. 11 CFR 105.2 and 11 CFR 105.4.

Late filing

The Federal Election Campaign Act does not permit the Commission to grant extensions of filing deadlines under any circumstances. Filing late reports may result in enforcement action by the Commission. 11 CFR 111.30. The Commission pursues compliance actions against late filers and nonfilers under the Administrative Fine program and on a case-by-case basis. 11 CFR 111.43. For more information on the Administrative Fine program, visit the FEC website.

Independent expenditures

Political committees and other entities that make independent expenditures at any time during the calendar year—up to and including the 20th day before an election (including a special election)—are required to disclose this activity within 48 hours each time that the expenditures aggregate $10,000 or more. This reporting requirement is in addition to the requirement to file 24-hour reports of independent expenditures each time disbursements for independent expenditures aggregate or exceed $1,000 during the last 20 days—up to 24 hours—before an election (including a special election). 2 U.S.C. §§ 434(b), (d) and (g) and 11 CFR 100.19(d), 104.4(b)-(c) and 109.10(c)-(d).

Political committees must use FEC Form 3X, Schedule E, to file 48- and 24-hour reports. Persons and other entities that are not political committees must use FEC Form 5. Political committees must report independent expenditures that do not trigger the 48- or 24-hour reporting thresholds on their regularly scheduled campaign finance reports. These independent expenditure reports are not required when a party committee or PAC makes a contribution to a candidate.

Persons and other entities that are not political committees must disclose independent expenditures in a quarterly report filed on FEC Form 5 once the expenditures exceed $250 in a calendar year in connection with an election. 11 CFR 104.4(b) (1) and 109.10(b). Form 5 filers are not required to file quarterly reports for periods in which they have not made any independent expenditures. However, they must file quarterly reports for periods in which they made expenditures aggregating over $250 in a calendar year for a given election, regardless of whether or not they have already reported that activity in a 48- or 24-hour report.

For a chart of 48- and 24-hour reporting periods for independent expenditures in connection with 2011 special elections, consult the FEC website at All individuals, persons and committees, including committees supporting only Senate candidates, must file their 24- and 48-hour reports and regularly scheduled reports of independent expenditures with the Commission. 11 CFR 104.4, 109.10, 105.1 and 105.2.

Committees active in special elections

Committees authorized by candidates running in any 2011 special elections must file pre- and post-election reports in addition to regularly scheduled reports. 11 CFR 104.5(h). They are also required to comply with the 48-hour notice requirement for any contribution of $1,000 or more per source (including loans) received shortly before an election. 11 CFR 104.5(f). PACs and party committees supporting candidates running in special elections may also have to file pre- and post-election reports unless they file on a monthly basis. 11 CFR 104.5(c)(3) and 104.5(h). All PACs are subject to 48- and 24-hour reporting of independent expenditures made before an election. See 11 CFR 104.4(b) and (c) and 104.5(g). When time permits, the Record will alert committees to special election reporting dates.

Electioneering communications

Additionally, individuals and other persons who make disbursements for “electioneering communications” that aggregate in excess of $10,000 must file disclosure statements with the Commission within 24 hours of distribution of the communications to the public. 11 CFR 100.29. A chart detailing the electioneering communication periods for 2011 special elections is available on the FEC website at info/charts_ec_dates_2011.shtml.

Disclosure of lobbyist bundling a ctivity

Campaign committees, party committees and leadership PACs that are otherwise required to file reports in connection with an election (including special elections) must simultaneously file FEC Form 3L if they receive two or more bundled contributions from lobbyists/registrants or lobbyist/registrant PACs that aggregate in excess of the lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold during the election reporting period (see reporting schedule chart at 11 CFR 104.22(a)(5)(v).

The lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold for calendar year 2010 was $16,000. This threshold amount may increase in 2011 based upon the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). As soon as the adjusted threshold amount is available, the Commission will publish it in the Federal Register and post it on its website. 11 CFR 104.22(g) and 110.17(e)(2). For more information on these requirements, see the March 2009 Record.

1 The regulation covers individuals and organizations required to file reports of contributions and/or expenditures with the Commission, including any person making an independent expenditure. Disbursements for “electioneering communications” do not count toward the $50,000 threshold for mandatory electronic filing. 11 CFR 104.18(a).

2 “Overnight mail” includes Priority or Express Mail having a delivery confirmation, or an overnight service with which the report is scheduled for next business day delivery and is recorded in the service’s online tracking system.

  • Author 
    • Elizabeth Kurland