FAQs: Election funding

Updated: 10 December 2019

Election funding

No, this is a deposit not an electoral expenditure. The Candidate’s Handbook outlines when deposits will be returned.

If electoral expenditure has been incurred by a person or an entity with an Australian Business Number (ABN) who is also registered for GST, the GST component of purchases cannot be claimed as electoral expenditure if the GST component can be claimed as an input tax credit. Contact the Australian Taxation Office for advice in relation to GST as it relates to your particular circumstances.

When preparing an election funding claim, the value of expenditure incurred by GST registered entities should be GST exclusive.

If persons or entities not registered for GST have incurred electoral expenditure, the GST component of the electoral expenditure can be claimed.

GST registration status must be indicated on the election funding claim.

For a purchase ‘in relation to the election’ to be claimed as electoral expenditure, there must be an identifiable relationship between the purchase and the election. An incidental connection between the purchase and the election is not sufficient.

In determining whether there is an identifiable relationship between the purchase and the election, the purpose of the electoral expenditure is relevant (i.e. if the election was one factor that resulted in a decision to incur an expense), along with the timing of the decision to make the purchase.

There is no defined time period in which the expenditure must be incurred, so long as it can be demonstrated to be in relation to the election.

Example 1

In September, Sally formally announced her intention to nominate as a candidate in the federal election (anticipated to be held in June). Sally has been planning to run since March. In August, the month before her announcement, Sally noticed a sale at a hardware store and bought wooden stakes, hinges and metal frames to produce election posters.

There is an identifiable relationship between the purchases and the election because the election was a genuine reason for Sally’s purchase. The purchases could be claimed as electoral expenditure.

Example 2

Khai is a sitting member of the House of Representatives who intends to contest the next federal election. Six months out from the anticipated federal election, he decides his car is too small to transport his boxes of leaflets, posters, banners and merchandise to campaign events. He uses his own money to purchase a trailer so he can move his material around the electorate. Khai is also a keen gardener and the trailer will come in handy for taking garden waste to the local waste management centre.

The election was a genuine factor in Khai’s trailer purchase, even though it wasn’t the only factor. There is an identifiable relationship between the decision to buy the trailer and the election. The trailer purchase could be claimed as electoral expenditure.

Example 3

Tanya generally buys a new car every five years. In August, the year before an anticipated June federal election, she decides it is time to purchase a new car for her own personal use. Tanya purchases the car in September.

In November, Tanya decides she will nominate as a candidate in the next federal election (anticipated for June the following year). Tanya has been an unsuccessful candidate at the last two federal elections.

During her election campaign, Tanya applies election campaign advertising to the car’s exterior and uses to car to drive to campaign events, as well as continuing to drive the car for her own personal use.

The election was not a genuine factor in Tanya’s decision to purchase the car. Tanya generally buys a new car every five years and would have bought a new car regardless of the election. Any relationship between the car purchase and the election is incidental. The vehicle purchase would not constitute electoral expenditure. However, the cost Tanya incurred in designing and applying the election campaign advertising to her car is related to the election. These expenses could be claimed as electoral expenditure.

Candidates who receive at least 4% of the total number of formal first preference votes in an election will automatically receive a $10,000 (indexed) payment without having to submit an election funding claim or demonstrate electoral expenditure.

The AEC will automatically pay $10,000 (indexed) to the agent of each eligible registered political party, candidate, or Senate group regardless of the actual amount of expenditure incurred by them.

Details of electoral expenditure up to the indicative election funding entitlement, as advised by the AEC, in writing, should be included on the claim form.

When considering what electoral expenditure to include in your election funding claim it is also important to be aware the AEC may deny some elements of the claim if they do not satisfy the requirements of s298C(2) of the Electoral Act.

Scenario 1

Party A has been advised its indicative entitlement for election funding is $100,000. Party A has electoral expenditure of $350,000, including one invoice totalling $150,000 for broadcast advertising. Party A may choose to only include the $150,000 invoice in its claim for election funding.

Scenario 2

Party B has been advised its indicative entitlement for election funding is $100,000. Party B has electoral expenditure of $50,000. Party B therefore lists all its expenditure in its claim for election funding.

Section 297 of the Electoral Act requires a final claim to specify all electoral expenditure for which funding is sought even if some or all of the electoral expenditure has been specified and/or paid in the interim claim. A final claim may specify electoral expenditure already specified in an interim claim by making reference to the interim claim.

When submitting a final claim you may:

  • Re-submit the interim claim (but identify it as a final claim at Part 2 of the claim form) if the total accepted by the AEC in the interim claim is higher than the calculated election funding entitlement. This would be an option where you are not claiming any additional expenses, but submitting a final claim in order to receive the remaining 5% of election funding that is withheld at the time of the AEC accepting an interim claim; or
  • If you have additional items of electoral expenditure to be assessed:
    • Add additional lines to the interim claim (but identify it as a final claim at Part 2 of the claim form); or
    • Complete a new claim and reference the interim claim by listing it at Item Number 1 in Part 4 of the claim form, including the total amount received in relation to the interim claim.

It is not necessary to list in the final claim any electoral expenditure that was refused in an interim claim, unless further information to assess the expenditure is being provided.

Under the Electoral Act, election funding is payable to the registered political party who endorsed a candidate as at the close of nominations.