An important part of Saskatchewan’s electoral system is the provincially-financed program that supports registered political parties and candidates.
This program includes reimbursements for appropriate election expenses and tax credits for political donations. This program makes it possible for everyone to participate in the election process regardless of wealth.
In order to be eligible for reimbursement, a registered political party’s candidates must have received at least 15 percent of the valid votes cast. Eligible parties may have up to 50 percent of appropriate election expenses reimbursed, once their chief official agent submits an audited election expense return.
Candidates who receive at least 15 percent of the valid votes cast in their constituency are also eligible for reimbursement. Candidates may be reimbursed up to 60 percent of their election expenses once their financial agent submits their audited election expense return.
After election day financial agents must file a Candidate Return of Election Expenses form (E-412), in order to have their candidate’s nomination deposit refunded.
Auditors are responsible for preparing and submitting the election expenses return of a registered political party or individual candidate.
Auditors must use generally accepted accounting principles and auditing standards when conducting their review of financial records of a party or candidate. As well, auditors are entitled to all information and documents necessary to conduct a proper audit.
If an auditor believes that proper accounting records were not kept by a party or candidate, the auditor must report this to Elections Saskatchewan.
The rules for tax credits on political donations are outlined in The Political Contributions Tax Credit Act, 2001 (the “Tax Credit Act“). Individuals and corporations may donate to registered political parties as well as individual candidates.
Tax credits are only for monetary contributions. Receipts may be issued for contributions over $25 and must only be issued by a chief official agent for a registered political party or a financial agent for a certified independent candidate. Official receipts for income tax purposes will only be issued in the name of the contributor.
The chief official agent of a registered political party must file an annual reconciliation of tax receipts used in the preceding calendar year with the Chief Electoral Officer. Copies of each issued, spoiled and duplicated receipt must accompany the filing.
Financial agents of independent candidates must file, within 30 days after the election, a reconciliation of tax receipts including the total amount of receipted contributions, copies of each receipt, spoiled receipts, duplicated receipts, and all unused receipts.
Public financing of candidates is intended to encourage participation and it is not intended to result in personal financial benefit.
The Election Act, 1996 requires that a candidate’s campaign surplus be remitted back to their nominating registered political party or constituency association.
Independent candidates will have any campaign surplus submitted to the provincial treasury.