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The price elasticity of charitable giving: does the form of tax relief matter?

  • Kim Scharf

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Warwick)

  • Sarah Smith

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Centre for Market and Public Organisation)

This paper uses a survey-based approach to test alternative methods of channeling tax relief to donors - as a tax rebate for the donor or as a matched payment to the receiving charity. On accounting grounds these two are equivalent but, in line with earlier experimental studies, we find that gross donations are significantly more responsive to a match change than to a rebate change. We show that the difference can largely be explained by the fact that a majority of donors do not adjust their nominal donations in response to a change in subsidy. This evidence adds to the growing empirical literature suggesting that consumers may not react to tax changes. In the case of tax subsidies for donations, this has implications for policy design - we show for the UK that a match-based system is likely to be more effective at increasing money going to charities.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W10/07.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:10/07
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  1. Looney, Adam & Kroft, Kory & Chetty, Raj, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," Scholarly Articles 9748525, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Huck, Steffen & Rasul, Imran & Shephard, Andrew, 2013. "Comparing charitable fundraising schemes: Evidence from a natural field experiment and a structural model," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2012-303r, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  3. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
  4. Feldstein, Martin & Clotfelter, Charles, 1976. "Tax incentives and charitable contributions in the United States : A microeconometric analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1-2), pages 1-26.
  5. Triest, Robert K., 1998. "Econometric Issues in Estimating the Behavioral Response to Taxation: A Nontechnical Introduction," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 51(n. 4), pages 761-72, December.
  6. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  7. Dean Karlan & John A. List, 2007. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1774-1793, December.
  8. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486.
  9. James Andreoni & A. Abigail Payne, 2003. "Do Government Grants to Private Charities Crowd Out Giving or Fund-raising?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 792-812, June.
  10. Randolph, William C, 1995. "Dynamic Income, Progressive Taxes, and the Timing of Charitable Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 709-38, August.
  11. Warr, Peter G., 1982. "Pareto optimal redistribution and private charity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 131-138, October.
  12. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ZTAX: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010, August.
  13. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, December.
  14. Laura O. Taylor & Ronald G. Cummings, 1999. "Unbiased Value Estimates for Environmental Goods: A Cheap Talk Design for the Contingent Valuation Method," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 649-665, June.
  15. Roberts, Russell D, 1987. "Financing Public Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 420-37, April.
  16. Scharf, Kimberley Ann, 2000. "Why are tax expenditures for giving embodied in fiscal constitutions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 365-387, March.
  17. Jon Bakija & Bradley Heim, 2008. "How Does Charitable Giving Respond to Incentives and Income? Dynamic Panel Estimates Accounting for Predictable Changes in Taxation," NBER Working Papers 14237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2008. "Subsidizing charitable contributions: a natural field experiment comparing matching and rebate subsidies," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 234-252, September.
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