Michael D. Ocker
September 19, 2016
With election season in full swing, you may be wondering, “Are political contributions tax deductible?” Here’s the lowdown:
Whether it’s your county mayor or the future President of the United States, the rules on taking advantage of tax deductions for political contributions are the same: Donations are deductible if the organization you give to is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity. This means that the organization you give to must have tax-exempt status, which is a special designation obtained from the IRS, in order for you to claim a tax deduction.
Many political organizations are automatically disqualified from this status. For example:
- Any donation to a political party, campaign, or action committee is non-deductible.
- Other non-deductible contributions are those to individual people, labor unions, business associations, for-profit schools, for-profit hospitals, foreign governments, and fees paid to associations or state or municipal governments.
Despite these rules, you can still reap the benefits of a tax deduction if you support 501(c)(3) tax-exempt political organizations that are non-partisan, in compliance with IRS guidelines on charitable contributions. Such organizations are allowed to communicate with politicians to ask them to make an issue a priority and educate them about why they should do so.
The bottom line: While you can’t make a tax-deductible donation directly to a candidate or campaign, you can make a tax-deductible donation to an organization that lobbies candidates about issues that are important to you. Just remember that in order to reap the benefits of a tax-deductible contribution, you’ll need to itemize the deductions on your tax return.