Current Political Campaign Contribution Limits

For 2017-2018 Election Cycle

Money bag and stack in political hats
Money and Politics: Together Forever. Getty Images

If you decide to contribute to a political candidate, you should know that the Federal Campaign Finance Law places legal limits on how much and what you can give. Representatives of the candidate's campaign committee should be aware of these laws and inform you of them. But, just in case...

Individual contribution limits for 2015-2016 election cycle

The following limits apply to contributions from individuals to candidates for all Federal offices.

  • $2,700 per Election to a Federal candidate -- Each primary, runoff, and general election counts as a separate election.
  • $33,800 per calendar year to a national party committee -- applies separately to a party's national committee, and House and Senate campaign committee.
  • $10,000 per calendar year to state, district & local party committees
  • $5,000 per calandar year to any Political Action Committee (PAC)
  • $5,000 per calendar year to state, district & local party committee
  • $100 in currency (cash) to any political committee. (Anonymous cash contributions may not exceed $50.) Contributions exceeding $100 must be made by check, money order or other written instrument.

Note: The Supreme Court’s April 2, 2014 decision in the case of McCutcheon v. FEC struck down the congressionally imposed two-year aggregate limit ($123,200 at the time) on contributions individuals could make to presidential and congressional candidates, political parties and some political action groups.

NOTE: Married couples are considered to be separate individuals with separate contribution limits.

Notes on Contributions to Presidential Campaigns

The contribution limits work a little differently for presidential campaigns.

  • You can contribute total of up to $2,700 to presidential candidates running in state primaries, but the donation is for the entire primary election period. You cannot donate $2,700 for each state primary in which the candidate is running.
  • A portion of your contribution may qualify to be matched by the federal government. If a candidate running in a primary election has qualified for the federal matching fund program, up to $250 of your total contributions to that candidate may be matched with federal funds. To qualify for federal matching, your contribution must be made written from, such as a check. Contributions such as currency, loans, goods and services, and any type of contribution from a political committee do not qualify for federal matching. In the general election, however, you may not make any contributions to the campaigns of Democratic or Republican nominees who receive Federal funds.

Can anybody contribute?

Certain individuals, businesses, and associations are prohibited from making contributions to Federal candidates or political committees.

  • Federal contractors -- individuals or businesses under contract to provide goods or services to the Federal government are prohibited from contributing to candidates or parties in Federal elections.
    • Corporations and Labor Unions -- are also prohibited form contributing. This law applies to all incorporated organizations, profit or non-profit. Business owners are not allowed to make contributions from their business accounts. Although corporations and labor organizations may not make contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections, they may establish PACs.
    • Cash -- in any amount over $100 is prohibited.
    • Contributions in the name of another person -- are not permitted. Note: Parents may not make contributions in the names of their children. Persons under 18 may contribute, but must do so willingly, under their own names, and with their own money.

    What constitutes a "contribution?"

    Besides checks and currency, the FEC considers "...anything of value given to influence a Federal election" to be a contribution.

    Note that this does not include volunteer work. As long as you are not compensated for it, you can perform an unlimited amount of volunteer work.

    Donations of food, beverages, office supplies, printing or other services, furniture, etc. are considered "in-kind" contributions, so their value counts against contribution limits.

    Important: Questions should be directed to the Federal Election Commission in Washington, DC: 800/424-9530 (toll free) or 202/694-1100.

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    Your Citation
    Longley, Robert. "Current Political Campaign Contribution Limits." ThoughtCo, Aug. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/current-political-campaign-contribution-limits-3322056. Longley, Robert. (2017, August 3). Current Political Campaign Contribution Limits. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/current-political-campaign-contribution-limits-3322056 Longley, Robert. "Current Political Campaign Contribution Limits." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/current-political-campaign-contribution-limits-3322056 (accessed December 16, 2017).