Friday, September 19, 2008

Biden Tax Returns: Charity begins at (someone else's) home

Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, released his tax returns for the past ten years last week. An analysis of his charitable giving by tax law professor Paul Caron shows that the Bidens haven't exactly been paragons of charitable giving:
... the returns show that the Bidens have been amazingly tight-fisted when it comes to their charitable giving. Despite income ranging from $210,432 - $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 - $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% - 0.31% of their income[.]
[chart omitted]
It is jarring that a couple earning over $200,000 per year would give as little as $2 per week to charity. This giving compares very unfavorably to John McCain, whose tax returns show that he gave 27.3% - 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007. During the same period, the Obamas' tax returns show that they gave 5.8% - 6.1% of their income to charity. [emphasis added]

Professor Caron cites IRS data that shows that the average taxpayer with adjusted gross income of $15,000 to $30,000 has charitable giving of $1,916. In contrast, the Bidens highest level of charitable giving reported in their ten years of returns was $995, or just about half what an average taxpayer making about ten times less gives to charity. In the Bidens' tax bracket of $200,000+ adjusted gross income, the average taxpayer in that bracket donates $20,434 a year, or over twenty times the Bidens' highest contribution in the past ten years, and over 170 times the Bidens' lowest charitable contribution. So much for charity beginning at home.

Of course, liberals as a group are less generous with their own time and money than conservatives, with conservatives (particularly religious conservatives) donating more of both their own time and money than similarly situated liberals. So perhaps it's not surprising that Joe Biden's reported charitable contributions are so meager. He obviously prefers to spend other people's money (i.e., yours) to help the less fortunate.

I guess when Senators Obama and Biden exhort us towards more "public service" to improve the lives of others, the fine print must read "as long as it doesn't come out of our own pockets."

And once again, John McCain leads by example, giving as a percentage of his income over four times more than Barack Obama gave in the past couple of years, and more than 90 times what Joe Biden gave in the same period, as a percentage of income.

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