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​Somer G. Anderson is an Accounting & Finance Professor with a passion for increasing the financial literacy of American consumers. She has been working in the Accounting and Finance industries for over 20 years.

Hard Money vs. Soft Money: An Overview

There are several ways to lớn define the terms "hard money" & "soft money." How you define them depends on what context you take.

In their simplest form, hard money và soft money are used to lớn describe different kinds of currency in economics. Hard money refers to coins, while soft money refers to paper currency.

Hard và soft money can also refer to how clients pay their brokers or financial services providers. In this case, hard money refers khổng lồ direct payments for services rendered—brokerage commissions—while soft money refers to payments for indirect items, such as the settlement of a costly error by providing free research. Soft money arrangements in the financial industry are common but are not usually disclosed to lớn stakeholders & regulators.

But the terms also have a role in politics. They are used to lớn refer to lớn political contributions in the United States. Money contributed directly to a specific candidate is known as hard money, while indirect contributions to political parties và political action committees are known as soft money. It is important to clarify the distinction between political contributions in the khung of hard & soft money.

Money contributed directly to lớn a specific candidate is known as hard money, while indirect contributions to lớn political parties & political action committees are considered soft money.The rules governing the two types of contributions differ.Hard & soft money can also refer lớn how clients pay their brokers or financial services providers.

Hard Money

For example, during the 2019–20đôi mươi election cycle, donors are subject to lớn the following limits:$5,000per candidate, per election, from a nonconnected committee that qualifies as a multicandidate committee. Donating to a candidate or candidates in excess of those federal limits can result in criminal charges, including fines & jail time for violating chiến dịch finance laws.

To each candidate or candidate committee per electionTo national party committee per calendar yearTo state, district & local các buổi tiệc nhỏ committee per calendar yearTo any other political committee per calendar year
$2,800$35,500$10,000 (combined limit)$5,000

Soft Money

Cash contributed to lớn a political các buổi tiệc nhỏ or political action committee with no limits attached khổng lồ the amount that can be received is known as a "soft money" contribution. The funds can come from individuals and political action committees as with "hard money," but they can also come from any other source, such as corporations.

When cash is contributed directly khổng lồ a political candidate, it is known as a "hard money" contribution. These contributions may only come from an individual or a political action committee (PAC) & must follow the strict limits mix forth by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

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The Supreme Court"s interpretation of the law says soft money can only be used for "party-building activities," such as advocating the passage of a law & voter registration, & not for advocating a particular candidate in an election.

The 2010 Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission says that soft money contributions can be unlimited in that they constitute a size of không lấy phí speech protected by the First Amendment, although this ruling has remained controversial.

PACs that receive sầu unlimited funds as soft money cannot be directly linked khổng lồ, or directed by, the political candidate or candidates they tư vấn. This is an important caveat because if a candidate is found khổng lồ be dictating what message or television ad the PAC or Super PAC will air, they are considered lớn be directly influencing how the money is used, making it a hard money contribution—& violating chiến dịch finance laws.

Hard Money và Soft Money Contribution Rules

The rules governing the two types of contributions differ, so before making a contribution, it may be prudent to lớn check these rules in detail. More information on these rules can be found on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website. requires writers to use primary sources to lớn support their work. These include White papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased nội dung in oureditorial policy.





Hard money is a currency backed by a gold standard or other precious metal, or types of lending, political contributions, & government funding.
Soft money is unregulated donations lớn political parties for general "party-building" purposes, not the support of a particular candidate.
Dark money refers lớn the funds donated to nonprofit organizations that are in turn spent khổng lồ influence elections.
A fiduciary is a person or organization that acts on behalf of a person or persons, và is legally bound lớn act solely in their best interests.

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A petition is a legal document formally requesting a court order, which, along with complaints, are considered pleadings at the onmix of a lawsuit.