Comparisons of charitable giving among presidential candidates

by Linda Beale

Comparisons of charitable giving among presidential candidates
[Hat Tip to Tax Prof]

Len Burman, now a professor at Syracuse but still affiliated with the Tax Policy Center, wrote a blurb for Forbes on Stingy Rich People, Santorum-Gingrich Edition, Forbes (Feb. 20, 2012), which was a followup to Caron’s comparison of presidential contender giving based on “Romney and Obama vie for title of most charitable; Santorum gave least to charity,” Washington Post (Feb. 16, 2012).

Romney gave about 13.8% of his income to charity in 2010, and Obama gave about 14.2% of his in 2010. The Gingrichs (with about $3.1 million in income) gave only about 2.6% of theirs in 2010 and the Santorums (with about $0.9 million in income), only about 1.8% of theirs in 2010.
Burman professes his surprise at Gingrich and Santorum’s relative stinginess, given their avowed commitment to religion (and their open claim to religious merit) and the Christian doctrine of tithing 10% of one’s income to the church.

But Burman finds that the relative stinginess of the two candidates is about on a par with members of their respective income classes. The group of people making between half a million and a million give an average 2.6% in 2009 and the group making between $2 and $5 million gave about 3.2% on average. Conclusion–Santorum and Gingrich are “in the middle of the pack” in terms of generosity for people of their income level.

Personally, I’ve always thought candidates should keep their religious faith to themselves. I don’t think we have any business at all taking into consideration whether a presidential candidate is a Mormon, a Baptist, a Muslim or an atheist. But if they do make a point of their religious faith and present it as a worthy attribute qualifying them for the presidency, then it is rather revealing when those who openly “brag” about their religiosity don’t comply with the most fundamental concept of sharing and generosity in the bible, the tithing requirement

crossposted with ataxingmatter