From The Atlantic:
Why tax the well-off? Because, two recent studies suggest, it’s practically the only way to persuade them to spend money on anyone but themselves. Philanthropy isn’t the answer: a survey from The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Americans making $70,000 or more dispensed a paltry 3.3 percent of their earnings to charitable causes; in contrast, those making $50,000 to $69,999 gave 5.6 percent, and those making $30,000 to $49,999 gave 8.9 percent. Only at death does the tightfistedness diminish—but even then it’s the threat of the estate tax that awakens the philanthropic spirit. Or at least that’s the conclusion of another new study, which predicts that deathbed donations will drop precipitously if the Bush Administration succeeds rolling back the estate tax. The study finds that the cost of such a repeal, in lost donations and bequests, could be as steep as $10 billion a year—the equivalent of the grants doled out annually by the nation’s 110 largest foundations.