The Impact of Tax Reform on Charitable Giving: a 1989 Perspective
48 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2004 Last revised: 13 Jun 2021
Date Written: March 1990
The purpose of this paper is to examine the predicted effects of tax reform in the 1980s (the tax acts of 1981 and 1986) on charitable contributions by individuals and to compare them to the actual and apparent effects, viewed from the perspective of 1989. The paper discusses what the economic models can and cannot be expected to do. Then, using published data from tax returns, the paper compares actual and predicted changes in giving as a result of both of the major tax reform acts. The paper concludes that the changes in contributions are quite consistent with the economic model of giving. As a result of these tax changes, average giving in high income classes declined. These results imply that tax policy should continue to be considered one important determinant of the level of individual charitable contributions.
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