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The Community Income Theory of the Charitable Contributions Deduction

41 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2005  

Johnny Rex Buckles

University of Houston Law Center


The charitable contributions deduction, a longstanding yet controversial feature of the Internal Revenue Code, has been justified under subsidy theories and tax-base theories. Focusing on the latter, this Article presents and explains a new tax-base theory in support of the charitable contributions deduction - the community income theory. This theory posits that some income, designated as community income, is properly excluded from the personal tax income base because it is more naturally attributed to the community than to the individual members of the community. Adopting the presumption that the community generally should be treated as a tax-exempt entity, this Article argues that both the charity income tax exemption and the charitable contributions deduction may be defended on the basis that they reflect the theoretically correct taxation of community income.

Keywords: income tax exemption, charitable organization, charity, Section 501(c)(3), charitable contributions deduction, charitable contribution deduction, income tax theory, community income

Suggested Citation

Buckles, Johnny Rex, The Community Income Theory of the Charitable Contributions Deduction. Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 80, p. 947, 2005; University of Houston Law Center No. 2005-A-14. Available at SSRN:

Johnny Rex Buckles (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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