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Bob Patterson

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:

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.

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