This article describes the filing requirements for 2018 and is supplemented by the reporting tables linked at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/dates-and-deadlines/.
Editor's note: On September 21, 2018, legislation was enacted which contained a provision that makes the Federal Election Commission (FEC) the official point of entry for all Senate filings, effective immediately. Learn more about the new requirements for Senate filings.
Year-End reports covering 2017 activity
All committees must file a 2017 Year-End report due January 31, 2018, that covers activity through December 31, 2017. To help committees prepare their reports, the Commission will host reporting and FECFile webinars for PACs and party committees on January 17 and for candidate committees on January 24.
Reports covering 2018 activity
To find out which reports your committee must file in 2018, check the Filing Frequency by Type of Filer section of our 2018 reporting dates webpage. Then check the links to tables for various categories of reporting dates. Please note that committees active in special elections in 2018 may have to file additional special election reports. All FEC reporting dates are also available on the Commission’s website at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/dates-and-deadlines/.
Notification of filing deadlines
In addition to publishing this article and the online reporting tables, the Commission notifies committees of filing deadlines through reporting reminders called prior notices. Prior notices are distributed exclusively by email, so every committee should ensure that the email address on its Statement of Organization (FEC Form 1) is current. Each committee may list up to two email addresses. To amend Form 1, electronic filers must submit Form 1 filled out in its entirety. Paper filers should include only the committee’s name, address, FEC identification number and the updated or changed portions of the form. Committees may also use our online webform to update their information.
The Commission provides prior notices of upcoming filing deadlines as a courtesy to help committees comply with the filing requirements set forth in the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations. Committee treasurers are responsible for filing committee reports on time. Not receiving a prior notice does not excuse committee treasurers for failing to comply with any filing deadline.
Under the Commission’s mandatory electronic filing regulations, individuals and organizations required to file with the FEC that receive contributions or make expenditures, including independent expenditures, aggregating in excess of $50,000 in a calendar year — or have reason to expect to do so — must file all reports and statements electronically.
Reports filed electronically must be received and validated by the Commission by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the filing date. Electronic filers who file on paper or submit an electronic report that does not pass the Commission’s validation program by that time on the filing deadline will be considered nonfilers and may be subject to enforcement actions, including administrative fines.
Senate campaigns and other committees supporting Senate candidates must file their FEC reports with the Secretary of the Senate on paper, but may file an additional unofficial electronic copy of their report with the Commission in order to enhance disclosure.
The Commission’s electronic filing software, FECFile, is free and can be downloaded at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/filing-reports/fecfile-software/. All reports filed after June 7, 2017, using FECFile or commercial filing software, must comply with Version 8.2 specifications of the Electronic Filing Format. Reports filed in previous versions of the Format will not be accepted. Filers may also use commercial or privately developed software as long as the software meets the Commission’s format specifications, which are available on the Commission’s website. Committees using commercial software should contact their vendors to ensure their software meets the latest specifications.
Timely filing for paper filers
Registered and certified mail
Reports sent by registered or certified mail are considered to be filed on the date of their postmark. 52 U.S.C. § 30104(a)(5) and 11 CFR 104.5(e). Accordingly, quarterly reports sent by registered or certified mail must be postmarked on or before the filing deadline to be considered timely filed. 11 CFR 100.19(b). A committee sending its reports by registered or certified mail should keep its mailing receipt with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark as proof of mailing, because the USPS does not keep complete records of items sent by certified or registered mail. 11 CFR 104.5(i).
Reports sent via overnight mail will be considered timely filed if the report is postmarked on or before the filing deadline. “Overnight mail” includes Priority Mail or Priority Express Mail having a delivery confirmation, or an overnight service with which the report is scheduled for next business day delivery and is recorded in the service’s online tracking system. See 11 CFR 100.19(b)(1) and (b)(3)(i). Note that “Express Mail” as referred to in FEC regulations has been renamed “Priority Express Mail” by the USPS.
Reports filed via overnight mail will be considered timely filed if the report is received by the delivery service on or before the mailing/filing deadline.
A committee sending its reports by Priority Mail or Priority Express Mail, or by an overnight delivery service, should keep its proof of mailing or other means of transmittal of its reports. See 11 CFR 104.5(e) and (i).
Other means of filing
Reports sent by other means — including first class mail and courier — must be received by the FEC (or the Secretary of the Senate) before close of business on the filing deadline. See 11 CFR 100.19(b) and 104.5(e). (If the deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, such filers should plan accordingly and file reports by the close of business on the last business day before the filing deadline.)
Forms may be downloaded at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/forms/.
Authorized committees of candidates
House and Senate candidates
Each authorized committee of an individual running for the House or Senate must file quarterly reports in 2018 if the individual running meets the definition of a candidate under the Act and Commission regulations. An individual becomes a candidate, thus triggering registration and reporting obligations, when his or her campaign exceeds $5,000 in either contributions received or expenditures made. If the campaign has not exceeded the $5,000 threshold, it is not required to file reports.
The authorized committees of House and Senate candidates must also file pre-primary election and pre-general election reports before any election in which the candidate participates in 2018. These committees also must file a post-general election report if the candidate participates in the general election.
Principal campaign committees of candidates who ran in past elections or are running in future elections must also file quarterly reports in 2018. A committee that wishes to stop filing reports with the FEC must file a termination report with the Commission or the Secretary of the Senate Public Records Office, as appropriate. Committees must continue filing reports until the Commission notifies them in writing that their termination report has been accepted.
Principal campaign committees of House and Senate candidates running in any 2018 election must file 48-hour notices for any contributions of $1,000 or more per source (including loans) received after the 20th day, but more than 48 hours, before an election. 48-hour notice deadlines are listed online at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/dates-and-deadlines/.
All presidential committees must file on either a monthly or a quarterly schedule in 2018. Presidential committees eligible to change their reporting schedule that wish to do so must notify the Commission in writing. Electronic filers must file such a request electronically. After filing a notice of change in filing frequency with the Commission and receiving an approval notice from the Commission, all future reports must follow the new filing schedule. The committee will receive a letter from the Commission approving the frequency change.
State, district and local party committees
State, district and local party committees that engage in reportable “federal election activity” must file on a monthly schedule in 2018. Committees that do not engage in reportable “federal election activity” may file on a quarterly schedule in 2018.
National party committees
National committees of political parties must file on a monthly schedule in 2018.
Political committees (PACs)—including separate segregated funds, committees with non-contribution accounts (Hybrid PACs), independent expenditure-only committees (Super PACs) and other nonconnected committees—that filed on a semi-annual basis in 2017 must file on a quarterly schedule in 2018. PACs that filed on a monthly schedule in 2017 must continue to file on a monthly schedule in 2018.
Pre- and post-election reports
Please note that in 2018, party committees and PACs that file monthly reports must file a pre-general election report and a post-general election report in lieu of the reports otherwise due in November and December.
Similarly, party committees and PACs that file quarterly reports in 2018 must also file:
Where to file
Committee treasurers must file campaign finance reports with the appropriate federal office, as discussed below. State filing requirements also apply to campaign finance reports filed by the principal campaign committees of candidates seeking office in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands and to reports filed by PACs and party committees that support these candidates.
House candidate committees
Principal campaign committees of House candidates must file with the FEC.
Senate candidate committees
Principal campaign committees of Senate candidates must file with the Secretary of the Senate.
Principal campaign committees of presidential candidates must file with the FEC.
Candidate committees with more than one authorized committee
If a campaign includes more than one authorized committee, the principal campaign committee must file, with its own report (FEC Form 3), a consolidated report of receipts and disbursements (FEC Form 3Z) showing its own activity as well as the activity of all other authorized committees of the candidate.
PACs and party committees
Generally, PACs and party committees must file with the FEC. However, committees that support only Senate candidates must file with the Secretary of the Senate, including the national Senatorial campaign committees.
Joint fundraising committees
Joint fundraising committees supporting only Senate candidates must file with the Secretary of the Senate. All other joint fundraising committees must file with the FEC. Please note that joint fundraising committees supporting only federal candidates must file on Form 3 and follow the reporting schedule for authorized committees. Joint fundraising committees supporting both federal candidates and other party or non-party political committees (such as PACs) must file on Form 3X and follow the reporting schedule for unauthorized committees.
Political committees and other persons who make independent expenditures may have to disclose this activity within 48 or 24 hours based upon the date and amount of the expenditure. Note that aggregations of independent expenditures must be calculated as of the first date on which a communication that constitutes an independent expenditure is publicly disseminated, and as of the date that any such communication with respect to the same election is subsequently publicly disseminated.
Political committees must use FEC Form 3X, Schedule E, to file 48- and 24-hour reports.
Persons and other entities that are not political committees must use FEC Form 5.
Political committees must report all independent expenditures, regardless of whether or not they trigger the 48- or 24-hour reporting thresholds, on their regularly scheduled campaign finance reports. These independent expenditure reports are not required when a party committee or PAC makes a contribution directly to a candidate.
Persons and other entities that are not political committees must disclose independent expenditures in a quarterly report filed on FEC Form 5 once the expenditures exceed $250 in a calendar year in connection with a given election. Form 5 filers are not required to file quarterly reports for periods in which they have not made any independent expenditures. However, they must file quarterly reports for periods in which they made expenditures aggregating over $250 in a calendar year for a given election, regardless of whether or not they have already reported that activity in a 48- or 24-hour report.
For a chart of the 48- and 24-hour reporting periods for independent expenditures made in 2018, consult the FEC website at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/dates-and-deadlines/.
All persons and political committees, including committees that support Senate candidates, must file their 24- and 48-hour reports of independent expenditures with the Commission.
Committees active in special elections
Committees authorized by candidates running in any 2018 special election must file pre- and post-election reports in addition to regularly scheduled reports. Principal campaign committees of candidates running in any 2018 special election also must file 48-hour notices for any contributions of $1,000 or more per source (including loans) received after the 20th day, but more than 48 hours, before an election.
PACs and party committees supporting candidates running in special elections may also have to file pre- and post-election reports unless they file on a monthly basis. All PACs, as well as individuals, corporations, labor organizations and all other persons, are subject to 48- and 24-hour reporting of independent expenditures made before an election.
Additionally, individuals and other persons who make disbursements for “electioneering communications” that aggregate in excess of $10,000 must file disclosure statements with the Commission within 24 hours of when such communications are distributed to the public. A chart detailing the electioneering communication periods for 2018 primary and runoff elections is available at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/dates-and-deadlines/.
Disclosure of lobbyist bundling activity
Campaign committees, party committees and leadership PACs that are otherwise required to file reports in connection with an election (including special elections) must simultaneously file FEC Form 3L if they receive two or more bundled contributions from any lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC that aggregate in excess of the lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold during the election reporting period.
The lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold for calendar year 2017 was $17,900. This threshold amount may increase in 2018 based upon the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). As soon as the adjusted threshold amount is available, the Commission will publish it in the Federal Register and post it on its website. For more information on these requirements, see the March 2009 Record.
For more information on 2018 reporting dates:
- Visit the FEC’s web page at https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/dates-and-deadlines/ to view the reporting tables online; or
- Call and request the reporting tables from the FEC at 800/424-9530 (press 6) or 202/694-1100.
- 2018 reporting dates
- Compliance map
- FEC electronic filing
52 U.S.C. § 30104
52 U.S.C. § 30113
Statements filed with State officers; “appropriate State” defined
11 CFR 100.3(a)
Definition of candidate
11 CFR 100.19(b)
Timely filed reports
11 CFR 100.19(c)
Electronically filed reports
11 CFR 100.19(d)
48- and 24-hour reports of independent expenditures
11 CFR 100.19(f)
24-hour statements of electioneering communications
11 CFR 100.29
11 CFR 102.3
Termination of registration
11 CFR 102.13(c)
Authorization of political committees
11 CFR 102.17
Joint fundraising by committees other than separate segregated funds
11 CFR 104.3(f)
11 CFR 104.4
Independent expenditures by political committees
11 CFR 104.5
11 CFR 104.5(b)
Filing dates for the principal campaign committee of a presidential candidate
11 CFR 104.5(c)
Filing dates for political committees that are not authorized committees of candidates
11 CFR 104.5(e)
Date of filing
11 CFR 104.5(f)
48-hour notification of contributions
11 CFR 104.5(g)
Reports of independent expenditures
11 CFR 104.5(h)
Special election reports
11 CFR 104.5(i)
Retaining proof of mailing
11 CFR 104.5(j)
24-hour statements of electioneering communications
11 CFR 104.18
Electronic filing of reports
11 CFR 104.22
Disclosure of bundling by lobbyists/registrants and lobbyist/registrant PACs
11 CFR 105.1
Place of filing for House candidates and their authorized committees
11 CFR 105.2
Place of filing for Senate candidates, their authorized committees and committees supporting only Senate candidates
11 CFR 105.3
Place of filing for presidential candidates and their principal candidate committees
11 CFR 105.4
Place of filing for political committees and other persons
11 CFR 109.10
Reporting independent expenditures
11 CFR 110.17
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