Setting Up a Political Campaign Bank Account

Opening a Political Campaign Bank Account

A political campaign bank account allows you to accept donations from supporters and make political purchases. When used correctly, a committee bank account can help you meet disclosure requirements with the NSW Electoral Commission.

Chain Bridge Bank specializes in meeting the banking needs of political committees. We can open new accounts in minutes, authorize campaign credit cards immediately and support federal and state reporting requirements.

Establishing the Account

Whether you’re an incumbent politician seeking re-election or a new candidate looking to get noticed, raising and spending funds is an important part of running for office. The first step is setting up a political campaign bank account, which allows you to receive donations and make purchases that comply with election laws. Most traditional banks, savings and loan associations or credit unions can handle campaign banking needs, but check with them for eligibility first. A committee must open its account at the beginning of the election cycle or when it first receives contributions, whichever comes first.

A federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a common requirement when opening a campaign bank account. It helps banks and payment processors identify your committee as an entity and complies with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and banking regulations. Some local candidates and committees may not require an EIN, however.

Depositing Contributions

Opening a campaign bank account is the first step in accepting political donations. Depending on local election laws, monetary contributions should be deposited within five business days of receipt. If a committee receives large amounts of donations, it may be necessary to deposit them more frequently.

It is a good idea to open an interest-free checking account rather than an interest-bearing savings account for your committee bank account. Any interest earned from the account must be reported in your committee’s finance reports.

Be sure to let your bank representative know that you are a political committee when opening the account, and provide your FEIN. You should also indicate on your committee’s registration which bank will be used for the account. If you use a personal credit card for committee expenses, be sure to record the expense details in your campaign’s financial records, including the vendor and amount paid. This will help keep your personal and campaign funds separate.

Maintaining Records

Once your committee has a bank account, it is important to maintain accurate records in the account. This includes obtaining and maintaining all bank records including statements, itemized deposit slips and copies of front and back of canceled committee checks. These should be uploaded into the C-SMART Bank Records section and submitted with upcoming disclosure statement filings.

It is also important that the committee name on the bank account match the committee registration and to keep personal funds separate from campaign funds. Similarly, a political action committee should never have an interest-bearing checking account.

Federal campaigns and committees must obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is similar to a Social Security number, for identification purposes. Many banks and payment processors require the committee’s EIN to open an account and substantiate its existence. In addition, some state and local laws require the committee to register as a business or non-profit entity. This isn’t a Minnesota Election Law requirement, but it can make it easier to work with financial institutions.

Paying Taxes

Before a campaign can open its bank account, it must register with the county board of elections or state political committee filing office. This process requires the committee paperwork and personal identification. During the registration process, the committee must also obtain an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. The EIN is used to distinguish the committee from the individual contributor and to comply with reporting requirements.

The committee should only use the funds in the account for the purpose of a political campaign. Any excess funds must be returned to donors. The committee must not co-mingle its funds with any personal accounts. Only citizens or permanent legal residents of the United States may donate to a political campaign.

Unless the campaign is affiliated with a union, it must obtain an Employee Identification Number. The EIN is used to identify the committee as an entity and helps banks and payment processors verify that it complies with contribution limits. The committee must file a Cash Receipts Monetary Contributions Report (C-3) for each date that money is deposited into the account.

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