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Do Tax Incentives Affect Charitable Contributions? Evidence from Public Charities’ Reported Revenues

  • Nicolas J. Duquette

This paper estimates the effect of the charitable contribution deduction on public charities' donation revenue. The effect is identified by exploiting variation in the change in tax incentives across US states following the federal Tax Reform Act of 1986. At the margin, a one percent increase in the tax cost of giving causes charitable receipts to fall by about four percent, a larger effect than has usually been found in the literature using household data. This result does not reflect intertemporal substitution and is robust to a variety of checks. Further analysis reveals that the effect is stronger for some sectors, notably health charities, and is driven by upper-income households. Tax reform proposals limiting upper-income households' charitable contribution deduction would sharply reduce some charities' contribution revenue.

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Paper provided by Job Market Papers in its series 2013 Papers with number pdu359.

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Date of creation: 09 Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:jmp:jm2013:pdu359
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  1. Karlan, Dean & List, John, 2006. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," Working Papers 13, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  2. John A. List, 2011. "The Market for Charitable Giving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 157-80, Spring.
  3. Karlan, Dean & List, John A. & Shafir, Eldar, 2011. "Small matches and charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 344-350, June.
  4. Huck, Steffen & Rasul, Imran, 2010. "Matched Fundraising: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5267, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
  6. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486.
  7. Konow, James, 2010. "Mixed feelings: Theories of and evidence on giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(3-4), pages 279-297, April.
  8. 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.
  9. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, June.
  10. Jonathan Gruber, 2004. "Pay or Pray? The Impact of Charitable Subsidies on Religious Attendance," NBER Working Papers 10374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Janet Currie & Jonathan Gruber, 1995. "Health Insurance Eligibility, Utilization of Medical care, and Child Health," NBER Working Papers 5052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Bakija, Jon & Heim, Bradley T., 2011. "How Does Charitable Giving Respond To Incentives And Income? New Estimates From Panel Data," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 64(2), pages 615-50, June.
  13. Stephan Meier, 2006. "Do subsidies increase charitable giving in the long run?: matching donations in a field experiment," Working Papers 06-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  14. Okten, Cagla & Weisbrod, Burton A., 2000. "Determinants of donations in private nonprofit markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 255-272, February.
  15. Naomi E. Feldman, 2010. "Time Is Money: Choosing between Charitable Activities," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 103-30, February.
  16. Gruber, Jonathan, 2004. "Pay or pray? The impact of charitable subsidies on religious attendance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2635-2655, December.
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