Half of Wealthy Americans Say Taxes Don't Affect Their Giving, Study Finds
March 3, 2009, The Chronicle of Philanthropy — A majority of affluent Americans say their charitable giving would be unaffected by the elimination of federal tax provisions designed, in part, to encourage philanthropy, according to a new study by Bank of America and Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
Nearly 52 percent of wealthy donors said their giving would remain the same if they no longer received any income-tax deduction for their donations, while 54 percent said their level of philanthropy would remain unchanged if the estate tax were repealed.
That said, a significant minority (47 percent) of people in the survey reported that they would give less if they could no longer claim a deduction for their charitable gifts. Of those respondents, 37 percent said their contributions would “somewhat decrease,” while 10 percent said their gifts would “dramatically decrease.”
With respect to the estate tax, 10 percent said they would donate less money if that provision were eliminated, while 37 percent said they would give more.
“There are so many considerations that go into not only why you give, but also how and where you give,” said Claire Costello, a Bank of America executive who works with wealthy donors. Tax incentives are “one among many.”
The study was based on responses from 700 households that earned at least $200,000 a year or had liquid assets of $1-million or more. The findings regarding donors’ opinions on tax provisions were similar to those in a 2006 survey, also commissioned by Bank of America and conducted by researchers with the Center on Philanthropy.
The recent study took place in July and August of last year, and asked donors about gifts they made in 2007, before the recession.
Additional information from the survey, The 2008 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, will be released on Wednesday.