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Updated for tax year 2022.
Campaign contributions total hundreds of millions of dollars, and they continue to rise. With this level of fundraising, one question is sure to come to mind: Are political contributions tax deductible?
The short answer? No.
Most political contributions, whether local, regional, or national, are not tax-deductible and haven’t been for years. So, if you are one of the many people donating to political candidates’ campaign funds, don’t expect to deduct any of those contributions on your next tax return.
The same goes for a business return. In most cases, political contributions are not considered a viable business expense and therefore are nondeductible.
While writing checks to a political party may not help your tax bill, there are ways to financially support a cause you believe in and still take a tax benefit. You just have to find a charity that qualifies for tax-deductible contributions.
Tax-qualified charities aren’t allowed to lobby or give money to a candidate, political party, or political action committee (PAC). However, under the banner of “education,” they can help persuade people about pertinent issues, which could impact the final election outcome.
How do I know if donations to a charity are tax deductible?
Only contributions to 501(c)(3) organizations are tax-deductible. These nonprofits have been designated as charitable organizations by the IRS.
To help clarify any confusion, specific details regarding the type of IRS organization and whether charity donations are tax-deductible should be clearly stated by the charity.
If you’re still in doubt, the IRS has an online tool that can help. The Exempt Organizations Select Check search tool lets you search for organizations and find specific information regarding their status.
Not all organizations are listed, and some use “doing business as” names, meaning they operate their business under a name different from their legal, registered name. In this case, searching by their legal name may not appear in the database.
Your Facebook donations may also be deductible if the organization meets the above requirements.
What about other nonprofits that promote causes I believe in?
If you want to donate to most social welfare nonprofits, otherwise known as 501(c)(4) organizations in the tax world, you’ll have to ensure they meet certain requirements to get a tax break. This includes (1) social welfare organizations not organized for profit that operate solely for the promotion of social welfare and (2) local associations of employees in a specific municipality that devote their net earnings exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational activities.
However, there are a couple of exceptions for homeowners’ associations and volunteer fire companies, which may be tax-exempt if they meet certain requirements.