North Carolina law requires candidate committees, political committees and referendum committees to submit reports disclosing contributions and expenditures on a regular schedule. Each candidate and committee must appoint a treasurer responsible for submitting true and correct reports to the elections board office by the due date.
The regular schedule for reporting contributions and expenditures changes depending on the type of committee, office, and year. It is the responsibility of the treasurer to follow the correct schedule. Due dates for quarterly reports, semiannual reports, pre-referendum reports and final referendum reports are posted on the State Board of Elections’ website. Due dates for municipal reports are available at the county board of elections.
A committee that fails to submit a report by the due date receives a financial penalty.
If a report affects a statewide election, the committee receives a penalty of $250 per day for each day the report is late, up to a maximum penalty of $10,000. A report affects a statewide election if the committee made any contribution to or in support of a statewide candidate or statewide ballot item during the reporting period.
If a report affects a nonstatewide election, the committee receives a penalty of $50 per day for each day the report is late, up to a maximum penalty of $500.
In calculating penalties, no day in which the elections board office is closed is counted towards the penalty amount.
If a committee intentionally files a report late in order to conceal contributions or expenditures, the State Board of Elections may assess additional financial penalties.
The Campaign Finance Office of the State Board of Elections strongly encourages treasurers to send disclosure reports by certified mail or by other delivery services with proof of pickup and delivery dates. In the event that a postmark cannot be read, or a report is lost in the mail, the certified mail receipt will serve as proof that that the report was timely.
A committee that fails to file a report entirely will receive a Notice of Noncompliance. If the committee does not file the missing report within 30 days of the Notice of Noncompliance, the committee’s active status will be terminated. A committee that is terminated may not receive or make contributions until it has filed the missing report and paid all penalties for the missing report. Please see rule 08 NCAC 21 .0201 (PDF) for more information.
Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 163-278.34(a), the State Board may waive a late penalty if it determines there is good cause for the waiver. It is within the State Board’s discretion to waive an entire penalty, or to reduce a penalty by any amount.
A political committee or referendum committee requesting a waiver of a civil late penalty must complete the Affidavit to Request a Waiver of Civil Late Penalties (PDF) form and file it with the State Board of Elections. Please include all relevant facts or circumstances on this form. You may attach additional pages if necessary. Per Rule 08 NCAC 21 .0206, the form must be filed within 60 days of service of the notice of penalty assessment.
Factors considered by the State Board in determining good cause include but are not limited to:
- Whether the late report was the first late report of the committee or the first late report within the last 10 years.
- Whether the late report was due prior to or after the election for a candidate.
- Whether the late report resulted in any contribution or expenditure not being disclosed to the public.
- Whether the late report resulted from a family emergency, severe illness or hospitalization, natural disaster, or similar unforeseen circumstance.
- Whether the treasurer or assistant treasurer received insufficient guidance from the State Board office or county board office in attempting to file reports.
- Whether documented issues with the U.S. Postal Service or other delivery service inhibited the committee from filing a timely report.
The Affidavit to Request a Waiver of Civil Late Penalties (PDF) form may be filed by mail or email:
NC State Board of Elections
P.O. Box 27255
Raleigh, NC 27611-7255
A committee may also contest a penalty by filing a petition for a contested case with the Office of Administrative Hearings. A petition must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the Notice of Penalty Assessment. Petitioners are required to pay a $20 filing fee. For further information, please contact the Office of Administrative Hearings by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (919) 431-3000.