TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Bush v. Kerry: Charitable Deductions

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

One element of the dueling analyzes of the Bush-Kerry tax returns that has been under-blogged is the relative amounts of the charitable deductions reported by each man. Here are the charitable deductions as a percentage of AGI

........ Bush ..Kerry
2003 8.3% 11.1%
2002 8.2% 12.9%
2001 10.2% 16.3%
2000... n/a 14.0%
Ave. .. 8.9% 13.6%

So much for compassionate conservatism.

Of course, Sen. Kerry's tax situation is muddled because he files separately from his wife and has not released her tax returns. And in any event charitable giving knowing that one's tax returns are to be released to the public is not the best measure of a person's heart for charity.

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Tracked on May 20, 2004 6:23:01 AM


Another possible problem with the comparison is that it is based on AGI, which does not include non-taxable portions of a taxpayer's income. We don't know how much tax exempt income Kerry and Bush had, so we don't know how much their charitable contributions cost them as a percentage of their spendable bucks.

Posted by: David Walser | Apr 20, 2004 11:20:06 PM

in any event charitable giving knowing that one's tax returns are to be released to the public is not the best measure of a person's heart for charity

Posted by: Fausta | Apr 21, 2004 8:36:41 AM

Duhh.. Kerry's only been giving money since he decided to run for president. His entire contributions for the decade of the 1990's is less than $7,000 according to available records.

Posted by: RC | May 3, 2004 9:33:25 PM

Another problem is that it doesn't list actual dollars. Bush's income is presumably much greater because (a) he earns more salary; (2) his wealth is not all in his wife's name who files separately. So if Bush made 1,000,000 last year that would be 80,000 in donations. If Kerry made 150,000 last year that would be 16-17k. I suspect that the poster of this information is trying to hide behind numbers by citing percentages. If we know Bush gave 80k and we know Kerry gave 16k, then Kerry being worth so much more than Bush doesn't look good.

Everyone should know that folks from high tax states like MA don't give much. There is a very strong correlation (inverse) between rate of state tax and charitable giving. Presumably, Kerry feels like he gives enough through taxes.

Posted by: TF | Jun 28, 2004 7:22:11 AM