The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (or OCEO, also known publicly as Elections NL) is an independent agency of the legislature that is responsible for administering election finance statutory provisions.
Rules governing political contributions are set out under Part III of the Elections Act, 1991 . Part III applies to registered political parties and candidates in an election.
Information that is required to be filed with the OCEO by the political parties and candidates is available for public viewing at the OCEO during normal business hours. The OCEO is also available to handle public inquiries on election financing.
Who May Contribute
Contributions to registered parties and candidates may be made only by natural persons individually, or by corporations and trade unions individually.
Unincorporated groups, such as partnerships, cannot make a contribution in the name of the unincorporated group or partnership. They must list the name and contribution of each individual within the group. The unincorporated group or partnership must have an ongoing reason for existence and cannot be formed simply for the purpose of making a political contribution.
Contributions may be made by natural persons whether or not they are resident in the province, corporations whether or not they carry on business in the province or trade unions whether or not they hold bargaining rights for employees in the province.
Only a registered party or candidate may solicit, collect or accept contributions.
Limits on Contributions
There are no limitations under the Elections Act, 1991 as to the amount of money that may be contributed, however, contributions may be made only from the contributor's own funds.
What this means is that a natural person, corporation or trade union shall not contribute funds not actually belonging to him or her or it or funds given or furnished to him or her or it by a natural person or group of persons or by a corporation or trade union for the purpose of making a contribution trying to remain anonymous.
A registered party or candidate and a person acting on its or his or her behalf shall not knowingly solicit or accept such a contribution.
List of Contributors is a Public Record
Political parties and candidates are required to submit listings attached to their financial statements indicating the name and address of the contributor and the contribution amount for all contributions which either individually or in total exceed $100.
The filed financial statements and the attached schedules are public records. These records may be inspected by any person upon request at the OCEO during normal working hours.
Form of Contributions
Amounts contributed in excess of $100 must be in the form of a cheque with the name of the contributor legibly printed on it signed by the contributor and drawn on an account in the contributor's name, or by a money order that identifies the name of the contributor, or in the case of an individual, by credit card having the name of the individual embossed on it.
Contributions of cash greater than $100 are not acceptable.
Anonymous contributions greater than $100 must be returned to the contributor if the contributor can be identified. If the contributor cannot be identified, the funds must be paid to the OCEO who will remit the amount to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Contributions of Goods or Services
If the contributor is in the business of supplying the goods or services contributed, their value is the lowest amount charged by the contributor for an equivalent amount of the same goods or services at or about the same time and in the same market area in which the goods or services are provided.
If the contributor is not in the business of supplying the goods or services contributed, their value is the lowest amount charged by another person who provides the same goods on a commercial retail basis or services on a commercial basis at or about the same time in the market area in which the goods or services are provided.
A Tax Credit is Available
The Provincial Income Tax Act allows for a credit against NL personal and corporate income taxes payable for a portion of political contributions.
The tax credit available is calculated as follows:
- 75 per cent of the first $100 of total contributions, and
- 50 per cent of the next $450 of total contributions, and
- 33 1/3 per cent of the next $600 of total contributions
for a maximum available credit of $500.
No tax credit is available for contributions greater than $1,150 and there is no provision for the carry over of unused credits to future years.
The tax credit is only available for contributions of money. Contributions of goods or services are not eligible for the provincial income tax credit.