For the purposes of this FAQ, “unincorporated” means groups that:
- Have not adopted a formal legal structure;
- Have not sought any tax-exempt status (such as 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) status); and
- Are not registered as a PAC at the state or federal level.
Groups that pass those three qualifications are generally free to engage in electoral work on either the coordinated or independent expenditure (IE) side on an election-by-election basis. This means that unincorporated groups can essentially choose each election whether they want to coordinate with or work independently of any candidates, campaigns, or political parties.
BUT unincorporated groups that are spending money on elections may still be subject to reporting requirements and/or contribution limits, depending on whether they have decided to coordinate or work on the IE side. For more info on reporting requirements and contribution limits, click here.
How an unincorporated group reports its activity depends on how the money is being spent. If an unincorporated group’s electoral spending is being paid for out of individual group members’ accounts, not a group bank account, then that spending will be treated as individual spending, and each individual would be responsible for keeping track of their own spending with respect to any reporting thresholds or contribution limits that might apply. If an unincorporated group’s electoral spending is being paid for out of a group bank account, then the group should report that spending as a group, not on an individual basis.