Tax checkoff for political parties

Designating money from the state's general treasury to political parties and their candidates

What is the program and how does it work?

Minnesota income tax and property tax return forms have a space where the taxpayer can check a box to designate $5.00 (or two separate $5.00 amounts for spouses filing jointly) to go to a particular political party. All parties that have met the statutory requirements to be recognized as a Minnesota political party are listed on the tax return forms.

The amount you checkoff does not affect your tax refund or tax owed. What you are doing by checking a box is instructing the state to pay your designated amount into an account called the State Elections Campaign Fund for the party of your choice. Money from the state's general treasury funds the checkoff; not money from the filers using the checkoff.

Periodically during each year a portion of the money is paid to the state unit of each recognized political party. Each election year a portion is paid directly to the campaign committees of qualifying candidates from each party. The Department of Revenue is required by statute to calculate the amounts to be paid in each election based on the amount in the party's account, the office the candidate is running for and, in part, on the county in which the taxpayer who made the checkoff resides.

Only candidates who have signed an agreement to limit their campaign spending and who have met other requirements are entitled to receive money designated under the tax checkoff program.

Although the Department of Revenue is responsible for keeping the records of checkoff money and where it came from, the payments are authorized by the Board, which is responsible for ensuring that only qualified candidates receive public subsidy money.

Instructions for filling out the checkoff section of your tax return

Near the top of your income or property tax form there is a section titled "State Elections Campaign Fund." This section lists the recognized political parties and provides a two-digit code for each.

Here's what the tax form instructions for that section say:

State Elections Campaign Fund
If you want $5 to go to help candidates for state office pay campaign expenses, choose the code number for your party. If you choose the general campaign fund, the $5 will be distributed among candidates of all major parties listed. If you are filing a joint return, your spouse may also designate a party. Designating $5 will not reduce your refund.