Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers his message during a campaign rally at the state fair in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers his message during a campaign rally at the state fair in Oklahoma City, Friday, September 25, 2015. J. Pat Carter—AP

Are Campaign Contributions Tax Deductible?

Oct 07, 2015

Q: Can I deduct campaign contributions on my federal income taxes?

A: With the election about to ratchet up into high gear, people on both sides of the aisle have started donating to political campaigns. Even this far out, presidential candidates are already in a fundraising frenzy—Hillary Clinton raised $28 million in the past three months alone—and the numbers are only going to get bigger. In the 2012 election, individuals gave more than $1 billion to presidential candidates. But can campaign donors write off any of these contributions on their federal income taxes?

According to the IRS, the answer is a very clear NO.

"You cannot deduct contributions made to a political candidate, a campaign committee, or a newsletter fund. Advertisements in convention bulletins and admissions to dinners or programs that benefit a political party or political candidate are not deductible," it says in IRS Publication 529.

You also can't deduct any of the portions of dues from a trade organization, Chamber of Commerce, or union that go to lobbying or political activities—with certain exceptions.

And if you're running the campaign for yourself or others, you can't deduct those expenses either. Sorry, Donald.

While you can't write off campaign contributions, you can earmark $3 of your taxes toward presidential candidates on your 1040 federal income tax return. Every election cycle it's distributed to "qualified Presidential candidates and national party committees for use in the Presidential elections." If there's any left over, the money rolls to the next election.

Read next: You’ll Never Guess Which State Has the Nation’s Most Unfair Taxes

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