Ask the Experts - California Late Contribution Reports - State and Federal Communications

February 22, 2024  •  

Ask the Experts – California Late Contribution Reports

Flag of California

Q: My employer makes corporate contributions in California. We have not yet exceeded $10,000 in calendar year 2024. The primary election is in March, along with the general election in the fall. If we decide to make contributions, when do we have a late contribution report due?

A: The California “Late Contribution Report” [Form 497], sometimes referred to as the “24-hour report” is due during the 90-day period preceding any election if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The contribution is $1,000 or more, or multiple contributions aggregating $1,000 or more, to a single candidate, ballot measure committee, or political party. This includes non-monetary and in-kind contributions;
  • The corporation making the contribution must have already qualified as a major donor or the contribution made during the 90-day period before the election puts it over the $10,000 threshold and it becomes a major donor; and
  • The recipient candidate or ballot committee must appear on the ballot at the election for which the 90-day period applies.

Contributions to political parties made during the 90-day period are also included. Contributions to PACs are not.
We are currently in the 90-day period for the March 5 primary election. The 90-day period for the November 5 general election begins August 7. Currently, no special elections are scheduled, but if one is, this triggers a new 90-day period. Check with the Fair Political Practices Commission for the exact dates of the 90-day period.

The filing requirements for Form 497 are:

  • The report is due within 24 hours of making the contribution. The contribution is made on the date it is mailed, hand-delivered, or otherwise transmitted to the candidate, ballot measure committee, or political party.
  • The report must be filed electronically with the California Secretary of State, Political Reform Division. No paper report is required.
  • If a report is due on a Saturday, Sunday, or official state holiday, the 24-hour deadline is extended to the next business day. However, the Form 497 must be filed within 24 hours on a Saturday, Sunday, or an official state holiday when the report is due the weekend immediately prior to an election. For example, if a donor makes a contribution on the Saturday before the election, the Form 497 is due on Sunday.

As a reminder, the late contribution must still be reported on the next major donor report that is due. In 2024, major donor reports are due July 31 for the period covering January 1 to June 30; and January 31, 2025, for the period covering July 1 to December 31.

For more information, be sure to check out the “Registration and Reports Required” section of the U.S. Political Contributions Compliance Laws online publication for California. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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