Information Acquisition, Inventory Levels, and Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving
40 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2021
Date Written: October 2021
Many of America’s top corporate donors share a common feature: the bulk of their giving is in the form of in-kind products, not cash. This phenomenon is not a coincidence but rather a result of the tax code creating such a preference due to an “enhanced” deduction for inventory donations. In this paper, we utilize a parsimonious model of inventory choice under uncertainty to demonstrate that enhanced tax deductions not only promote giving, they also promote better learning of consumer demand for products in the retail market. An inventory stockout curtails a firm’s learning of precise consumer demand since the firm’s sales volume only reveals that the underlying consumer demand exceeded the inventory level. Tax incentives for donations of excess inventory encourage a firm to boost its inventory stocks which, in turn, boosts the firm’s learning of consumer preferences. Accounting for this informational role of tax incentives, the paper derives charitable giving patterns, socially-beneficial tax policy, and firms’ information acquisition choices.
Keywords: charitable giving, corporate philanthropy, demand uncertainty, inventory, taxation
JEL Classification: D21, H21, H25, L31, M40
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