Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sharing the wealth

A group called "NewTithing" believes that the charitable impulses of wealthy folks are being obstructed by misunderstanding their own capacity: that basing philanthropic decisions on assets rather than annual income would lead to increased giving while they're alive (as opposed to making big bequests in their wills). Sounds like simply a new way of saying "rich people should give more", but along the way NewTithing is doing some interesting research from IRS data.

For instance this year they sorted philanthropy by the wealthiest households by U.S. states. It turns out that people in the states with the most wealth are giving less of it to charity than folks in smaller, poorer states. "If affluent income tax filers in the five wealthiest states (California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois) gave as generously as do their well-off peers in the “The Charitable Five,” individual giving in the U.S. would increase $13 billion a year." Those five most-generous states by percentage of personal assets are Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota and Georgia. That's not exactly what those of us in the big blue states tend to assume about places like Utah and Oklahoma is it?

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