Continuing political committees: How to close out the year
Continuing political committees “close out” at the end of every calendar year. This means that you stop adding new activity to the aggregate totals for contributions and expenditures. The C-4 reports aggregate totals from January 1 to December 31 of a specific calendar year. You will need to know the “cash on hand” balance from Line 18 of the December C-4 from the previous calendar year. In preparation for the end of year C-4 report due on Jan. 10, there are a few steps that you can take in order to clean up your campaign for the year.
Check for any outstanding checks. You may have written contribution checks to candidates or other PACs earlier in the year that were not cashed or were lost in the mail. You will need to review the specific circumstances for each expenditure to see if you are able to reissue the check. (*Remember that some candidates cannot accept contributions due to the session freeze prohibition.)
Check your ending balance for the year. Look at the total appearing on Line 18 of your December C-4 and compare it to your actual bank balance. If there is a significant difference you may need to make some corrections to your earlier reports and file amendments. Un-cashed checks, duplicate entries, missing bank interest or fees could all be to blame for the discrepancy. Additionally, negative balances on Line 18 are not appropriate and usually indicate that something has not been reported accurately at some point in the campaign. Since you must use the ending balance from the previous year as the carry forward amount for new year, your December C-4 will need to be accurate.
If you are using ORCA to electronically file, clean up your contact list to prepare for importing. You can import your list(s) of contacts from the prior year's ORCA data into your newly created ORCA campaign so you don’t have to re-type them. The import process will go smoothly if you don’t have any errors in your current list. Use the “browse” button found in the bottom right corner of ACCOUNTS>CONTACTS>INDIVIDUALS (or the appropriate choice) to review your list. Delete any empty lines you find in your list. Be sure all your “couple” contacts have both an appropriate “couple name” and separate unique contact entries. If you import contacts that contain errors, ORCA will halt the import process. If you import a second time it will import the entire list again, subsequently duplicating the names from the first attempt. You can delete the duplicates after the import process is successful or choose to start over with a newly created campaign.
File your last C-4 for the calendar year. When you have the prior year's campaign in order, including entering all of the activity for the month of December, you will be ready to submit your December C-4 report. It is important to complete this final task for the calendar year carefully as you will be using the cash on hand balance from Line 18 of this C-4 as your beginning balance in the new year.
Last, if you are an ORCA user, make a backup of your campaign. When you have made all of your corrections and filed your December C-4 and any C-3s for December deposits, you should make a backup of your data. Save this backup in a location other than the computer that you are using to file. Remember that if something should happen to your computer everything on it will be jeopardized including your campaign information. If you will be passing the task of filing on to someone else you should provide this backup to them.