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Video:Tips for Donating Money to Political Campaigns

with Nathan Buck

If you're planning on donating money to a political campaign, be aware that there are a number of laws regarding how much you can give and how you can give it. This About.com video will go over some tips for donating to political campaigns.See Transcript

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Transcript:Tips for Donating Money to Political Campaigns

Hi, my name is Nathan Buck for About.com, and in this segment I am going to give you some tips for donating money to political campaigns.

Campaign Spending at an All-Time High

The 2008 election was the first year in which the combined political campaigns of the two major presidential candidates spent over 1 billion dollars. And when all the political spending for federal office for that year was tallied, the estimate is that the cost of the 2008 election cycle was somewhere in the region of 5.3 billion. Even the mid-term congressional races of 2010 cost 3.6 billion and 2012 is almost certain to go on record as the most expensive election year ever.

Individual Campaign Donation Limits

So it might come as a surprise that regardless of your wealth, you as an individual have limits to the amount you can contribute to a political campaign. So here is what you are allowed, by federal law to give: you may contribute up to $2500 to each candidate at a local, state, or federal level; you can give up to $30,800 to a national party committee; you can give up to $10,000 to each state, district & local party committee; you can give up to $5,000 to any other political committee. Your total contributions cannot exceed $117,000 in overall spending for any 2 year period: $46,200 to all candidates and $70,800 to parties and political action committees (PACs).

Donating to Super PACs

If you decide to contribute more than $200 to any candidate, PAC or party, the beneficiary of your contribution is legally obliged to disclose your name as a matter of public record.

However, if you wish to remain anonymous and still contribute over $200, you might want to look into one of the so called Super PACs. Technically known as 501(c)(4) organizations and 527 organizations, these entities are considered by the IRS to be tax exempt non-profit "social welfare" organizations - and although they allowed to be political in nature they are not supposed to "expressly advocate" for any candidate or party.

In practice, though, by watching one of their advertisements you are going to get a pretty strong hint of which side of the political spectrum they're on. These organizations have no upper limit on the amount of money they can accept from an individual, and no obligation to disclose their donors' identity. So if you wish to remain anonymous and contribute big dollars to the political process, Super PACs are for you.

So those are a few tips on donating money to political campaigns. For more information, please go to About.com.

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