A further element of Saskatchewan's electoral system is the state-financed program supporting registered political parties and candidates. State support, in the nature of reimbursements of a portion of the lawfully incurred election expenses and state subsidization through a tax credit political donation process makes it possible for people irrespective of wealth to participate in the election process.
Reimbursement of Election Expenses
A registered political party or a candidate is entitled to receive reimbursement of a portion of their lawfully incurred election expenses. To be eligible for reimbursement, a registered political party must have endorsed candidates who, in the aggregate, have received not less than fifteen (15) percent of all valid votes cast in the election and whose chief official agent has completed and submitted an audited election expenses return. To be eligible for reimbursement, a candidate must have obtained not less than fifteen (15) percent of all valid votes cast in the constituency and his or her business manager must have completed and submitted an audited election expenses return.
Based on the information contained in its audited financial return, a qualifying registered political party is entitled to reimbursement of a sum equal to one-half of their lawfully incurred election expenses.
Candidates are entitled to be reimbursed a sum equal to (60) percent of their lawfully incurred election expenses.
The reporting requirements and the responsibility assumed through consenting to appointment as auditor of a registered political party or candidate includes reporting in writing to the chief official agent or business manager on the respective election expenses return prepared on behalf of the party or individual candidate.
The auditor must employ generally accepted accounting principles/auditing standards when conducting review of spending and financial records of a party or candidate. The auditor is entitled, at reasonable times, to have access to all records, documents, books, accounts and vouchers of the candidate's business manager or the registered political party's chief official agent.
The auditor's duties extend to thorough examination of the accounting records of a party or of a candidate permitting him or her to reach an opinion as to whether the return examined presents fairly the transactions contained in the accounting records on which the return is based. It is compulsory that the party's chief official agent or candidate's business manager provide the information and explanations necessary to facilitate preparation of the auditor's report. In instances where the auditor has reason to believe or is suspicious that proper accounting records were not kept by the party or candidate, the auditor must report the same.
Tax Credits for Contributions
The political contributions tax credit system, under The Political Contributions Tax Credit Act, 2001 (the "Tax Credit Act"), provides provincial resident taxpayers, inclusive of individuals and corporations, the opportunity to claim tax credits against Saskatchewan income tax payable based on eligible contributions to a registered political party or independent candidate for which a valid receipt was obtained. The Tax Credit Act governs the Province's political tax credit system and provides a basis for calculating political contribution tax credits for use by provincial resident taxpayers under The Income Tax Act, 2000 (Saskatchewan)(the "Provincial Tax Act").
The Tax Credit Act allows for tax credits for monetary contributions only. Tax receipts may be issued for every eligible contribution received by a registered political party or independent candidate which exceeds $25.00. Official receipts for income tax purposes must only be issued in the name of the contributor.
Official income tax receipts must be issued by a chief official agent on behalf of a provincial registered political party or by a business manager for an independent candidate. Chief official agents can issue receipts only if their names are recorded in the Register of Political Parties maintained by the Chief Electoral Officer under the Election Act. The business manager of an independent candidate is eligible to issue tax receipts on behalf of the independent candidate if the validity of the candidate's nomination has been certified by the constituency returning officer.
A chief official agent of a participating registered political party must file a reconciliation of tax receipts used in the preceding calendar year with the Chief Electoral Officer. Copies of each issued, spoiled and/or duplicated receipt must accompany the annual filing.
In circumstances where an independent candidate participates in the Province's political contributions tax credit regime, the business manager must file, on or before thirty (30) days after a polling day, a reconciliation of tax receipts provided for use in the campaign period together with the total amount of contributions receipted. Copies of each issued, spoiled and/or duplicated receipt must accompany the filing, along with all unused receipts.
Disposition of Surplus Campaign Funds
Public financing of candidates is intended to encourage participation and reduce the potential for undue influence of a few important contributors. It is not intended to result in personal financial benefit for candidates. As such, the Election Act requires that a candidate's campaign surplus be remitted to the registered political party who endorsed the candidate or the local constituency association of such a party in the candidate's constituency. For independent candidates not sponsored by a registered political party, these funds must be submitted to the provincial treasury.