Paul L. Caron

Monday, December 27, 2010

Law Prof Challenge: Give Your Bush Tax Cut Savings to Charity

Jacob Hacker (Yale), Robert Hockett (Cornell), and Daniel Markovits (Yale) have launched Give It Back for Jobs, which encourages people to donate to charity the amount of money they will save from the extension of the Bush tax cuts:

America’s shared prosperity is under threat. Even as the Great Recession devastates the American middle class, the wealthy continue to prosper.

The tax cut deal, while perhaps the best the President could get, will not end this crisis of American democracy. It does too little to help the middle class. And it expects too little support from those who can afford to give the most. Ordinary citizens can, by acting together to create a shadow fiscal policy, correct this failure of government and set the country moving toward a just prosperity.

Here’s How. How Americans who have the means should collectively give back our Bush tax cuts by making donations to organizations that promote fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class. Such joint action, by all visitors to this site, will begin to replicate good government policy, outside the government and free from the grip of obstructionists within it. Because contributions to all of the selected charities are tax deductible, donations made through this site draft the government as a partner in funding the projects that they support.

We can, in this way, begin to redeem candidate Obama’s promise that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

The site allows users to calculate their savings from the extension of the Bush tax cuts using the Tax Policy Center's methodology. The site allows users to donate the savings to one of four charities:

Of course, a more direct way to give back the Bush tax cut savings would be to give the money to the U.S. Treasury. Here are the voluntary contributions received by the Government under this program:

2011       $21,966.90
2010  $2,840,466.75
2009  $3,063,057.05
2008  $2,189,358.89
2007  $2,624,862.42
2006  $1,646,209.41
2005  $1,455,541.65
2004     $664,911.25
2003  $1,277,423.40
2002     $744,675.06
2001  $1,645,082.28
2000  $1,868,891.93
1999  $1,457,510.59
1998  $1,535,541.02
1997     $955,897.15
1996  $1,985,175.10

For further discussion of Give It Back for Jobs, see:

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I have suspected that those wealthy people who were asking to be taxed more would not voluntarily pay more than the minimum they can get away with. Your chart confirms that. But there is no patriotic duty to pay more taxes than the law requires. See Do the Wealthy Have a Patriotic Duty to Pay More Taxes?

Posted by: Roger Billings | Dec 28, 2010 5:07:11 PM

Tell them to mind their own business. I give more to charity every year than most Americans make. But, they are the charities I select. Further its my money it is not the governments money. Those professors should examine the beams in their eyes before the look for specks in mine.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Dec 28, 2010 9:25:11 AM

I hope nobody is dumb enough to be holding his breath waiting for this nonsense to actually happen.

Posted by: retired tax attorney | Dec 27, 2010 3:57:16 PM

This is pure comedy. I suppose the treasury or a 501 entity creates more jobs and property than taking the savings and investing in a new or existing business. Whatever makes you feel self righteous I suppose.

Posted by: $s you can believe in | Dec 27, 2010 8:06:23 AM

Is it clear that giving the money to the U.S. Treasury constitutes a charitable deduction? I assume there are no solicitation fees involved as might be the case with other charities. Query whether a gift of appreciated property to the U.S. Treasury might be treated the same as in the case of other charitable contributions?

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | Dec 27, 2010 4:27:19 AM

I've never understood why there isn't more of this. If you don't like tax cuts, it is easy to "give them back"--with a deduction, no less. The difference is, this way, you're not forcing each other to do the same.

Posted by: mike livingston | Dec 27, 2010 3:37:11 AM