Major Party Conventions Partly Funded with Tax Dollars
August 25, 2008
Don't Mess With Taxes reminds us that the major party conventions (the Democratic one in Denver this week and the Republican one in Minneapolis next week) are in part taxpayer funded, to the tune of $17 million each (but not a major share of the total cost, which is mostly underwritten by sponsors). The funds come from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund checkoff box on the 1040 form, which we looked at in this piece earlier this summer:
In both the primaries and general elections, the federal funds come from the tax payments of filers who voluntarily check off the box on their 1040. As noted above, the vast majority of filers do not check the box. When the PECF was first established in the 1970s, the participation rate hovered around 27 percent of filers. Since then, participation has been steadily declining [to around 12 percent today].
If PECF participation is broken down by adjusted gross income (AGI) an interesting trend emerges. As AGI increases, the percentage of returns electing to contribute to the PECF increases (see Table 1). In the lowest range, taxpayers with less than $10,000 in AGI, fewer than 10 percent checked the box in 2004. In the highest income group reported by the IRS, those with an AGI of $10 million or more, 23 percent contributed. This is still not especially high, but it is curious. Why the difference?