Can Candidates Get Tax Breaks for Contributing to Their Own Campaigns?

BY Paul Solman  October 4, 2012 at 11:53 AM EDT


Photo of Republican candidate Mitt Romney via Getty Images

Paul Solman frequently answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his Making Sen$e page. Here’s Thursday’s query:

Harvey Weldon: If Romney were to contribute a million dollars to his campaign he would receive a tax break. Does the transaction equate to a gain for Romney as a tax deduction and for the rest of us a loss of tax revenue?

Paul Solman: No, Harvey, he would NOT receive a tax break, which means you and I would not pay for it. That’s if he — or President Obama, for that matter — were to contribute directly to his own campaign, or to anyone else’s. If, however, either one gave money to the tax-exempt arm of a so-called Super PAC like Crossroads GPS, the money would indeed seem to be tax deductible. I’ve linked to the CrossroadsGPS YouTube channel so you can see the anti-Obama ads they’ve been running. If President Obama were to contribute to the Democrat Super PAC Priorities USA Action, the same would presumably be true: the money would be tax exempt. You can see their anti-Romney ads here.

If either candidate did contribute to his own campaign, though, it would be quite the news story, wouldn’t it? Unless, of course, given the privacy afforded by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, no one ever found out.

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions