Can You Write Off a Political Donation?

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Every election year you can depend on two things: a lot of nasty rhetoric, and a flood of emails, texts and robocalls asking for political donations. You can’t do much about the former, but you can control the latter — either by ignoring the pitches or donating your time or money.

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If you choose the latter, you might wonder if political donations are tax deductible. The answer is easy: they aren’t. You cannot write off political donations regardless of whether you give your money, time or effort.

According to Intuit TurboTax, the IRS is “very clear that money contributed to a politician or political party can’t be deducted from your taxes.” That rule applies to donations to any of the following:

  • Political candidate
  • Political party
  • Campaign committee
  • Newsletter fund
  • Advertisements in convention bulletins
  • Admission to dinners or programs that benefit a political party or political candidate
  • Political action committees

You also can’t write off donations to groups that lobby for law changes, civic leagues or labor unions. If you checked the box on your Form 1040 asking if you want to give $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, this will not affect your taxes or deductions.

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The same rules apply to both individuals and businesses. If you are unsure whether a particular organization qualifies as a legitimate charity, visit the IRS’s Tax-Exempt Organization Search Tool.

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Here are examples of organizations that you can deduct charitable contributions to:

  • A church, synagogue or other religious organization
  • A war veterans’ organization or its post, auxiliary, trust or foundation organized in the United States or its possessions.
  • Qualified nonprofit schools and hospitals
  • Qualified nonprofit organizations such as the American Red Cross, United Way, Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America
  • A nonprofit volunteer fire company
  • A domestic fraternal society operating under the lodge system, but only if the contribution is to be used exclusively for charitable purposes

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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