Is There A Regional Bias in Federal Tax Subsidy Rates for Giving?

Charles T. Clotfelter, Daniel R. Feenberg

NBER Working Paper No. 2564 (Also Reprint No. r1515)
Issued in April 1988
NBER Program(s):The Public Economics Program, The International Trade and Investment Program, The International Finance and Macroeconomics Program

This study examines regional variation in average subsidy rates for charitable donations. Because the tax incentive for contributions is embodied in an itemized deduction, the subsidy rate for an individual depends on the taxpayer's itemization status and marginal tax rate. It is well know that this subsidy rate rises with income. On a regional level, one would expect that subsidy rates would be higher in wealthier regions. What is not clear is the extent of such variation or whether subsidy rates vary systematically independent of income. In order to examine the various sources of variation, we decompse subsidy rates. We find significant variation in subsidy rates independent of income, in what appears to be an unintended regional bias in the federal policy toward charitable giving. If most contributions remain in the state or region of the donor, this bias will tend to affect the regional development of the nonprofit sector.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2564


  • Clotfelter, Charles T. and Daniel R. Feenberg, "Is There A Regional Bias in Federal Tax Subsidy Rates for Giving?." Public Finance, Vol. XXXXV, No. 2, pp. 228-239, (1990).
  • Clotfelter, Charles T & Feenberg, Dan, 1990. "Is There a Regional Bias in Federal Tax Subsidy Rates for Giving?," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 45(2), pages 228-40. citation courtesy of

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