Skip to content

Trickle down Charity?

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has put another nail in the coffin of trickle down economics. Using IRS data from 2006 to 2012, they found that as the US economy has come out of recession, while most of the new income has gone to the richest Americans, those people who earn $200,000 or more have actually reduced the percentage of their income that they give to charity by 4.6%.

Meanwhile, middle and lower income Americans (those who earn less than $100,000) have increased the share that they give to charity by 4.5%, even though on average they earned less.

Bottom line? The rich are earning more, paying less in taxes, and giving a smaller percentage to charity. So what, may I ask, is trickling down?



  1. David Freeman wrote:

    Bullshit appears to be trickling down. It’s amazing how many moderate to low income folks are being fooled into believing Teapublicans have their best interests in mind.

    Irrational resentment is also trickling down. Oddly many rich and powerful persons seem to resent the poor. Using fear, they convinced even low income folks to resent the poorer and the poorest whites to resent African Americans and everyone to resent Hispanics.

    The foundation of the post-1964 Republican Party is built on irrational fear and resentment leading to people voting against their own self-interests. This seems inherently unstable to me and I remain gobsmacked puzzled as to how the Republican Party has survived so long by serving so few.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink
  2. Hassan wrote:

    What do those figures mean? Do people earning more than 200k give 4.6% of their income in charity vs people who earn 100k or less give 4.5% of their income in charity?

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, no.

    Did you read the linked article?

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  4. PatriotSGT wrote:

    David, how in the world can you automatically conclude that “teapublicans” gave less; or are even part of the $200,000 and up pool of people giving less to charity.

    In the article, if you read it through, there is a section (only one) that puts political party to the metrics and it states:

    •The 17 most generous states, as measured by share of income donated to charity, voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Florida, at 18, was the most generous state to vote for Barack Obama.

    So going by the only evidence offered, it would seem that fat cat wealthy liberals are the ones not trickling down.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  5. David Freeman wrote:

    I was only responding to IronKnee’s question, “what, may I ask, is trickling down?”

    I said nothing about charitable giving or Republicans giving less financially.

    I stand by my statement that the Republican Party has survived despite, “serving so few”. The Republican Party works primarily for the benefit of oligarchs and throws crumbs to social conservatives.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  6. Jon wrote:

    The published figures include churches as “charitable organizations,” a characterization clearly in dispute morally although not legally. Many, MANY churches are social organizations existing only to support the belief systems of members while doing virtually nothing to benefit society as a whole and often doing things (by supporting intolerance and bigotry) which are harmful to society.

    I say, “Put all churches to the test.”

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    A total flaw in your article. The whole article is based on the amount people report on their tax return as contributions, not how much they gave. As a tax preparer, I found people got very charitable as they did their tax returns. I wouldn’t let them. Since the IRS is getting better at tracking contributions and not letting people get away with fictitious contributions, people are more honest on their returns; hence the drop in “contributions” from the wealthy.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    Ok, everybody calm down and let’s have a civil discussion.

    First of all, Jon is right. Churches are indeed classified as “charitable organizations” by the IRS. This probably explains why Utah had the highest percentage of giving to charities — tithing is pretty much required of Mormons.

    Anonymous, if you are defending the rich, I don’t think it is working. Sounds like you are saying “the rich aren’t cheap, they are just liars who got caught”.

    And PSgt, David didn’t say Teapublicans gave less. But the tea party is definitely the main group still promoting trickle-down economics, lowering taxes on the rich, and cutting social programs for the poor.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  9. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK – if a connection between Tea Party, 1% ers, and reduced contributions to charity were not trying to be connected then why put them in the same paragraph? It just seemed (apparently only me) like an attempt to conflate and draw some unfounded correlations between events.

    As far as giving from the 1%’ers, looking at tax returns alone does not paint the whole picture. I can’t speak for the whole country, but in my area and places I’ve visited there are monuments to the charity of the wealthy everywhere. In my community there are baseball and soccer fields donated to all, community centers with pools, gyms; theaters and art galleries all donated by our wealthiest. And I’d venture a guess that none of those showed up on an individual tax return. Matter of fact, many of the wealthiest have philanthropic entities that distribute their wealth for them, so it’s not tied to their income.

    I’d also be interested in seeing some study on the decrease in charitable spending vs the increase in political spending. Imagine if (for instance) all the money (not to mention effort) raised by the Clinton’s and Obama’s of the world, for politics was donated to charity instead?

    Seems like the pot calling the kettle black to me. (as my great grandmother would say)

    Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink