Contribution Limits

There are no limits on how much individuals and companies can contribute to political action committees like AGC’s BUILD PAC. There are, however, limits on the amount that PACs, individuals and companies can contribute to campaigns.

Washington State candidate-contribution limits (effective February 29, 2016)

Contribution Limits

An individual may give a maximum of:

  • $2,700 per election to a federal candidate. Notice that the limit applies separately to each election. Primaries, runoffs and general elections are considered separate elections.
  • $5,000 per calendar year to a PAC or state party committee. This limit applies to a PAC (political action committee) that supports federal candidates. (PACs are neither party committees nor candidate committees. Some PACs are sponsored by corporations and unions & trade, industry and labor PACs. Other PACs, often ideological, do not have a corporate or labor sponsor and are therefore called nonconnected PACs.) PACs use your contributions to make their own contributions to federal candidates to fund other election-related activities.
  • $10,000 per calendar year to state or local party committees. State Party committee shares its limits with local party committee in most states unless a local committee’s independence can be demonstrated.
  • $33,400 per calendar year to a national party committee. This limit applies separately to a party’s national committee, House campaign committee and Senate campaign 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.

*These contribution limits are increased for inflation in odd-numbered years.

The law also prohibits contributions from corporations and labor unions. This prohibition applies to any incorporated organization, profit or nonprofit. For example, the owner of an incorporated “mom and pop” grocery store is not permitted to use a business account to make contributions. Instead, the owner would have to use a personal account. A corporate employee may make contributions through a non-repayable corporate drawing account, which allows the individual to draw personal funds against salary, profits or other compensation.

The contribution limits work a little differently for presidential campaigns. In the case of a presidential candidate running in various state primaries, you may contribute up to $200 for the entire primary campaign period – not $200 for each state primary in which the candidate runs.

Your contributions may be supplemented with Federal (U.S. Treasury) funds. If a presidential primary candidate has qualified for the federal matching fund program, up to $250 of your total contributions to that candidate may be matched with federal funds. Contributions must be in the form of a check or other written instrument. (Note that some contributions are not matchable, such as currency, loans, goods and services, and any type of contribution from a political committee.)

In the general election, however, you may not make any contributions to the campaigns of Democratic or Republican nominees who receive Federal funds. (Federal funding in the general election takes the form of direct government grants rather than matching payments.) You may nevertheless designate a contribution of up to $1,000 to the candidate’s compliance fund, a special account used to pay for certain legal and accounting expenses. You may also contribute up to $2,000 to the general election campaign of any presidential candidate who is not a federally funded Democratic or Republican nominee. Federal funds used in Presidential elections come from the dollars voluntarily checked off by taxpayers on their federal income tax returns. (The checkoff does not affect the total amount of taxes paid or any refund due.)

If two or more individuals want to make a contribution using one check drawn on a joint account, all the contributors must sign the check or an attached statement. The check or signed statement may show how much should be attributed to each donor; otherwise, the contribution is equally divided among the contributors.