Wealthiest Donors Gave 9 Percent of Their Income in 2007, Study Finds
March 4, 2009, Chronicle of Philanthropy — Amid the debates over President Obama’s proposal to reduce tax breaks for affluent donors, a study released today shows that half of wealthy Americans say their charitable giving would be unaffected by the elimination of federal tax provisions designed, in part, to spur philanthropy.
Nearly 52 percent of wealthy donors said their giving would stay the same if they no longer received income-tax deductions for their donations, while 54 percent said a repeal of the estate tax would have no impact on their philanthropy, according to the study by Bank of America and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
That said, a significant minority (47 percent) of people in the survey reported they would give less if they could no longer take a deduction for their charitable gifts. Of those respondents, 37 percent said their contributions would “somewhat decrease,” while 10 percent predicted their gifts would “dramatically decrease.”
If the estate tax were eliminated, 10 percent said they would donate less money, 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’s researchers based their findings on responses from 700 households that earned at least $200,000 annually or had liquid assets of $1-million or more.
What donors had to say about tax provisions jibed with findings from a similar 2006 survey on giving by wealthy people, also commissioned by Bank of America and conducted by researchers at Indiana University.
The latest survey took place in July and August of last year and asked people about donations they made in 2007, before the recession.