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Ask/Answered is a weekly feature for reader-submitted questions. Follow the blog online at www.cumberlink.com:

Where does the money for the Presidential Election Campaign Fund come from?

There is a check box many taxpayers have seen on their filings that asks if they would like to donate money to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.

Check yes, and $3 is donated to the fund. Check no, and it’s not.

Donating to the fund does not affect the person’s income tax refund.

Basically, when someone checks yes, the federal government takes $3 that would normally have gone to the government coffers and places it in the election campaign fund, according to FiveThirtyEight, a political and sports analysis website owned by ABC News.

The money in the fund is used to provide public funds to presidential candidates to help reduce the reliance on large contributions from individuals or organizations, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Every four years, nominees of the two major parties receive a fixed amount from the campaign fund, and other candidates are eligible for a smaller proportional cut of fund dollars, according to the FEC.

Candidates in primary elections may also receive dollar-for-dollar matches from the fund for contributions up to $250, and national party committees can receive funds to help offset the cost of a national convention.

The fund was established by Congress in the early 1970s.

Since the beginning of the program, however, the percentage of taxpayers contributing the fund has fallen, according to FiveThirtyEight. It reported that in 1980, nearly 30 percent of taxpayers contributed money to the public financing fund for presidential elections, but by 2016 only 6 percent contributed.

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Email Joshua Vaughn at jvaughn@cumberlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.

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