This week the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced long-awaited increases to some individual contribution limits for 2013-14. Here’s what has changed—an individual may now give $2,600 per election (up from $2,500) to a candidate for federal office and $32,400 (up from $30,800) per year to a national party committee. Contribution limits to Federal PACs (including corporate PACs and leadership PACs) and State/Local party committees did not change.

As a reminder, the per-election limits mean that an individual may give $2,600 to a candidate’s primary election and an additional $2,600 to the general election (and another $2,600 if there is a runoff). Spouses do not share limits with one another, so they may each give $2,600 per election. Thus, using a joint checking account, a married couple could send a candidate a single check for up to $10,400.

Here’s a chart that summarizes the differences between 2011-12 and 2013-14:

Contributions to…

  2013-14 2011-12
 Federal Candidates  $2,600 per election  $2,500 per election
 National Party Committees  $32,400 per year  $30,800 per year
 State or Local Party Committees  $10,000 per year  $10,000 per year
 Federal PACs  $5,000 per year  $5,000 per year
 Aggregate Biennial Limit  $123,200  $117,000

The FEC also increased the amount an individual may contribute to all Federal candidates, parties, and PACs over a two-year period (called the aggregate biennial limit—covering Jan. 1, 2013-Dec. 31, 2014). We have previously discussed a constitutional challenge to this limit here.

Of this overall aggregate limit, the FEC places further categorical aggregate limits, which can be confusing. Politically-active individuals can inadvertently exceed the limits quite easily by contributing to fundraising committees or “maxing out” to just nine candidates in the two-year period. The flow chart below helps to clarify the picture, but as scrutiny increases on political donations by larger donors, it is wise to consult with counsel about these limits.

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