The reporting requirements for Candidate running in Australian Federal elections are managed by the Australian Electoral Commission.

An independent or unendorsed candidate is required to make a candidate return either directly or through the appointment of a Candidate Agent.

An Independent Candidate

An independent candidate is not endorsed by a political party registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 or under corresponding state or territory electoral legislation.

The term includes an endorsed candidate of an unregistered political party.

Disclosure Period

The disclosure period covered by the Candidate Returns varies for donations received and electoral expenditure, and for new and previous candidates. Section 287 of the Electoral Act outlines the different disclosure periods applicable to Candidate.

If a candidate did not stand previously for election and is contesting the current election as an unendorsed (independent) candidate, the disclosure period commences on the date that their candidacy was announced or the date the candidate nominated, whichever is earlier.

The disclosure period ends 30 days after the date of the election.


The candidate return requires disclosure of all donations received during the disclosure period in total.  The candidate and the donor are required to disclose donations over the set threshold $13,800 in calendar year 2018/2019.

It is important to note that when consolidating amounts received from a single source, section 287(6) of the Electoral Act deems related bodies corporate to be the same entity.

If you make a contribution or gift to an independent candidate in an election,  the contribution must be made after the candidates for the election are officially declared or announced and before either:

  1. a) the candidate withdraws
  2. b) the election result is officially declared or announced.

The deductibility of donations for tax purposes is different to the reporting requirements for the candidate as donations even for unsuccessful candidates are required to be reported until the end of the disclosure period.

Campaign Expenditure

The candidate is required to disclose different types of campaign expenditure incurred during the disclosure period:

  • the broadcasting, during an election period, of an advertisement relating to the election; or
  • the publishing in a journal, during the election period, of an advertisement relating to the election; or
  • the display, during the election period, at a theatre or other place of entertainment, of an advertisement relating to the election; or
  • the production of an advertisement relating to the election, being an advertisement that is broadcast, published or displayed; or
  • the communicating of any electoral for which particulars are required to be notified under section 321D during the election period; or
  • the production and distribution of electoral matter that is addressed to particular persons or organisations and is distributed during the election period; or
  • the carrying out, during the election period, of an opinion poll, or other research, relating to the election.