As the 2016 Congressional Primary Season Begins – Beware of Increased FEC Reporting
March 1, 2016
By: Peter Sherman, Senior Vice President, PAC Services
In addition to more candidates, speeches, and political advertising, election years also bring increased reporting requirements for political action committees (PACs). To ensure compliance, it is imperative that companies and associations that sponsor PACs become familiar with Federal reporting requirements, especially now that we are on the verge of the 2016 primary season.
PACs registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) can choose how frequently they are required to file their campaign finance disclosure reports. PACs can file reports monthly or quarterly. PACs can change their filing frequency once each calendar year by filing with the FEC a Notice of Change in Filing Frequency.
PACs that file monthly are required to file a report by no later than the 20th day of each month disclosing activity that occurred during the previous month. Regardless of whether the 20th falls on a weekend or on a holiday, the report must be filed by no later than the 20th. There are no provisions in Federal law that allows an extension of time for the filing of the report. This year, in addition to the monthly reports, PACs will be required to file a Pre-General Report and a Post-General Report. The Pre-General report will cover the period of October 1, 2016 through October 19, 2016, and must be filed by no later than October 27, 2016. The Post-General Report must disclose activity that takes place from October 20, 2016 through November 28, 2016 and must be filed by no later than December 8, 2016. The Year-End report is still due by January 31 of the following year.
Many PACs change their filing frequency in non-election years (odd years) from monthly to quarterly since quarterly filers are only required to file reports in January and July in non-election years. Quarterly filing becomes more complicated in election years; so many PACs go back to monthly filing in even years.
In an election year, quarterly filers must file reports in April, July, October and January. In addition, quarterly filers that make contributions during the Pre-General reporting period to candidates running in the general election must file a Pre-General report. And just like monthly filers, quarterly filers must file a Post-General report and the Year-End report.
This, however, may not be the extent of the reporting required of quarterly filers during an election year. Quarterly filers that make contributions to candidates running in primary elections in 2016 may be required to file Pre-Primary reports in addition to the regularly scheduled quarterly reports. If and when these reports are due depends on to whom, and when, the contribution is made. Not all contributions made in connection with a primary election trigger pre-election reporting requirements. It is important that you monitor your PAC’s activity throughout the year to ensure all your reports are filed in a timely manner.
For a complete schedule of reports due in 2016, visit the FEC’s website at www.fec.gov.