Tax Payer Check-off Law and Legal Definition

The taxpayer check-off is a public funding program through which funds are collected for the purpose of financing the presidential elections. Congress set up the check off in the early 1970's as an alternative way of funding Presidential elections. This is a public fund, but no taxpayer is forced to contribute to the fund. The tax payer can check "yes" or "no" in the 1040 federal income tax return. If yes, then the taxpayer contributes $3 of his/her annual federal income tax payment to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. However, contribution to the fund does not relieve a person from his/her individual taxes. The Federal Election Commission administers and enforces the public funding program.

Presidential nominees in the general election, Presidential primary candidates and party nominating conventions can receive the check off dollars. Only those candidates who meet the strict qualifications established by Congress and are certified eligible by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) can receive the check off dollars. The IRS monitors the flow of checkoff dollars into the Fund, and the Treasury Department makes the actual payments to candidates and committees. At the end of every Presidential election, the FEC audits the campaigns that receive public funds. Any unused fund or funds that were not spent for campaign purposes must be returned to the U.S. Treasury.