Alberta's 2023 general election campaign officially starts today, with election day being held on May 29. Albertans who plan to make financial contributions to parties, candidates or third-party advertisers should be mindful of the rules in the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act (Act).
The Act defines a "contribution" as money, real property, goods or services, or the use of real property, goods or services, provided to or for the benefit of a political participant without compensation from the political participant to the donor. A political participant includes registered political parties, constituency associations, candidates and contestants.
Only persons ordinarily residing in Alberta may make contributions. Corporations, unincorporated associations and organizations are prohibited from making contributions.
Individuals may contribute a maximum of C$4,300 per calendar year to any or a combination of registered political parties, constituency associations, candidates and contestants. Political parties may accept contributions at any time, but candidates may accept contributions only during the campaign period. Constituency associations may accept contributions at any time except during the campaign period.
In the case of a general election, the campaign period is the period commencing with the issue of a writ for the election and ending two months after election day.
Political parties and candidates must report all contributions to Elections Alberta. Individuals who contribute over C$50 or a total of C$250 in any calendar year will have their name and address publicly disclosed.
In Alberta, a third-party advertiser (TPA) is an individual person, corporation, trade union or group that advertises to promote or oppose a registered political participant. However, a third party that is affiliated with a registered party is not eligible to be registered as a TPA and cannot undertake political or election advertising or accept advertising contributions.
Individuals may contribute up to a total of C$30,000 per calendar year to any combination of election TPAs. The TPAs must be advertisers who engage in election advertising to promote, oppose or take a position on an issue associated with a registered party or candidate in an election.
TPAs must register with Elections Alberta if they spend or plan to spend C$1,000 or more in advertising. TPAs must also maintain up-to-date registration information and submit regular financial reports to disclose their financial activities.
Individuals who make contributions to political participants may
claim non-refundable Alberta income tax credits. Contributions to
third-party advertisers are not eligible for tax credits.
The following are available tax credits for contributions:
- Up to C$200 – 75% available tax credit, C$150 maximum tax credit
- Next C$900 (i.e., C$200.01 to $1,100) – 50% available tax credit, C$450 maximum tax credit
- Next C$1,200 (i.e., C$1,100.01 to C$2,300) – 33?% available tax credit, C$400 maximum tax credit
- Over C$2,300 – Nil for both available and maximum tax credit
Contributions play a significant role in elections. They are a means by which voters can participate in the democratic process. Voters should keep in mind the limits and tax implications of their contributions as we approach election season.
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