Ask the Experts – Corporate Contributions in California - State and Federal Communications

July 8, 2010  •  

Ask the Experts – Corporate Contributions in California

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc. You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: (Of course, we have always been available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

Q. My employer makes corporate contributions in California. We have not yet exceeded $10,000 in calendar year 2010. The primary election and special elections are taking place, 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 16-day period preceding any election if all of the following criteria are met:

  • The contribution is $1,000 or more. 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 16-day period before the election puts them over the $10,000 threshold and they become a major donor.
  • The recipient candidate or ballot committee must appear on the ballot at the election for which the 16-day period applies.
  • Contributions to political parties made during the 16-day period are also included.

The filing requirements for Form 497 are:

  • The report is due within 24 hours of making the contribution.
  • No signature is required.
  • The report must be filed electronically with the California Secretary of State, Political Reform Division, and then followed up by paper filing via facsimile to the following:
  • California Secretary of State, Political Reform Division
  • Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder
  • San Francisco City and County Registrar

If the contribution is non-monetary or in-kind, the contributor must notify the recipient of the value of the contribution within 24 hours of making the contribution. The notice of value does not need to be filed with the state or any of the other filing offices listed above.

There is no standardized form. The notice should be sent to the recipient by personal delivery, fax, or guaranteed overnight delivery.

As a reminder, the late contribution must still be reported on the next major donor report that is due. In 2010, major donor reports are due July 31, 2010, for the period covering January 1 to June 30; and January 31, 2011, for the period covering July 1 to December 31.

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