"This is a difficult decision," he said. "I've talked it over with my money. I've talked it over with my spiritual adviser."
The announcement builds on Colbert's long-running lampoon of federal election finance laws allowing unlimited contributions to so-called super PACs.
Colbert, a South Carolina native, started a super PAC -- Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow -- in 2010 to make fun of the federal rule. He has a tax-exempt 501(c)4 organization, called the Colbert Super PAC SHH [as in "shh"] Institute, Politico said.
Former FEC Chairman Trevor Potter, appearing as a guest on Thursday's show, told Colbert he would not legally be able to retain control of the super PAC if he becomes a candidate.
"That would be coordinating with yourself," Potter said.
To avoid legal entanglements, Colbert handed over control of his super PAC to Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."