Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about PACs
Questions about the Greener Heating Fuels PAC
Why is the Greener Heating Fuels PAC important?
The Greener Heating Fuels PAC enhances NEFI’s presence in Washington by supporting candidates for office that share our vision for the industry and understand the needs of our members and consumers. As a result, our collective voice becomes louder and stronger in the halls of government. Given the challenges and opportunities we face as an industry, the NEFI Greener Heating Fuels PAC is more important now than ever.
How is this different from the NEFI Advocacy Fund?
Advocacy fund donations support NEFI’s legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts, compliance and education programs, and related expenses including staffing needs. Advocacy donations are a business expense and unlike the PAC, are not used to support political candidates. They are therefore partially tax deductible. The PAC is a separate segregated fund and does not fall under NEFI’s budget. Contributions to the PAC must be personal and are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes.
How does the PAC decide which candidates to support?
Decisions on which candidates to support are made by the PAC leadership in consultation with its treasurer, assistant treasurer, and advisory members. The main criteria used in making this decision is whether a candidate shares the PAC’s policy goals and understands the needs of NEFI members and consumers.
What percentage of PAC funds are used to support candidates?
100% of contributions to the NEFI Greener Heating Fuels PAC – every dollar received – is used to support qualified candidates for federal office that meet the criteria outlined above. Costs associated with administering the PAC are paid for separately by NEFI.
Does the PAC support Democrats or Republicans?
The Greener Heating Fuels PAC is non-partisan and does not contribute to candidates based on party affiliation.
Does the PAC support candidates for state office?
The Greener Heating Fuels PAC only supports candidates for federal office. We encourage NEFI members to inquire with state industry associations about whether they maintain similar PACs in support of state and local candidates.
General Questions about Federal PACs
What is a PAC?
A political action committee or “PAC” is a legal entity that allows Americans with common policy interests to come together with a unified voice. PACs are a vital tool for trade associations that advocate on behalf of their members at the federal level. PACs allow a trade association to pool campaign contributions from its members in support of candidates for office that share their policy goals. Trade association PACs are not Super PACs. They are among the most transparent and well-regulated entities in politics and are overseen by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
How much can a PAC give to a candidate for office?
Federal law currently prohibits PACs from contributing more than $2,900 to any federal candidate in a single election. This number increases to $5,000 once the PAC has: (1) been registered with the FEC for six months, (2) received contributions from more than 50 persons, and (3) contributed to five or more total federal candidates.
Am I required to contribute to my trade association’s PAC?
Absolutely not. Contributions to a PAC are strictly voluntary and you may refuse to contribute without fear of reprisal. Recommended contribution amounts provided online or by a representative of a PAC are merely suggestions. You may contribute more or less than this amount or nothing at all. Trade associations are prohibited from favoring or disadvantaging any member by reason of the amount of their contribution or their decision not to contribute to a federal PAC.
Who may contribute?
Federal law restricts PAC contributions to U.S. citizens and persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. Federal law also prohibits PACs from soliciting contributions from the general public or accepting contributions from corporations or foreign nationals. It further requires a trade association’s PAC to obtain written prior approval from corporate members before it solicits their stockholders, executive and administrative personnel, or other qualified employees for financial contributions. Corporate members may refuse to authorize solicitations without fear of reprisal. Further, corporate members may provide prior approval to solicit to only one trade association per calendar year. NEFI members may provide this approval to the Greener Heating Fuels PAC by filling out the authorization form online here.
How much can I contribute?
Eligible persons may voluntarily contribute up to $5,000 per calendar year to a PAC. Marriage partners (i.e., a husband and a wife) each have separate $5,000 limits, even if only one spouse has all or the majority of the income.
Is my contribution tax deductible?
PAC contributions are used for political purposes and are NOT deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.
Is my contribution a personal or business expense?
Contributions to a PAC must be made with personal funds. They may not be paid for, expensed, or reimbursed by an employer. They must also not be paid for or made in the name of another person. Federal law prohibits PACs from accepting corporate checks or credit cards. They may accept contributions from partnerships and LLCs that elect to be treated as a partnership for tax purposes or that have only one natural person member. Such contributions are subject to strict federal guidelines.
What information is collected with my contribution?
Federal law requires PACs to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and employer of any person that contributes more than $200 per calendar year. PAC activity must be reported semiannually during non-election years and monthly during election years and is publicly disclosed on the FEC website, www.FEC.gov.
Can I make an anonymous PAC contribution?
Federal law only permits anonymous cash contributions of $50 or less. Federal law requires that PACs record the amount, date of receipt, and contributor’s name and mailing address for any contribution that exceeds $50. The PAC is also required by federal law to make best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation, and employer of all persons contributing more than $200 per calendar year.