Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Charitable Contributions: Helping the Rich without Helping the Poor

Prof. Fran Quigley has written a fascinating analysis of the effectiveness of the U.S. Tax Code's charitable contributions deduction and whether the poor benefit from the  current scheme.  The answer is no.   The charitable deduction is largely used by the very wealthy to endow college buildings, art donations and other "charitable" acts that benefit the already well off.  Individuals who lack resources receive little to no benefit from charitable contributions as they are currently structured.  The article, For Goodness’ Sake: A Two-Part Proposal for Remedying the U.S. Charity/Justice Imbalance is scheduled to be published by Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law  and can be read here.  The abstract reads as follows:

"The U.S. approach to addressing economic and social needs strongly favors individual and corporate charity over the establishment and enforcement of economic and social rights. This charity/justice imbalance has a severely negative impact on the nation’s poor, who despite the overall U.S. wealth struggle with inadequate access to healthcare, housing, and nutrition. This article suggests a two-part approach for remedying the charity/justice imbalance in the U.S.: First, the U.S. should eliminate the charitable tax deduction, a policy creation that does not effectively address economic and social needs, forces an inequitable poverty relief and tax burden on the middle class, and lulls the nation into a false sense of complacency about its poverty crisis. Second, the U.S. should replace the deduction with ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This two-part process would reverse the U.S. legacy of avoiding enforceable commitments to economic and social rights. Charity would take a step back; justice a step forward."


Fran Quigley, Margaret Drew, Poor | Permalink


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