The Billionaire Givers Club

Last year two of the richest individuals in the world, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, announced they intended to donate over 50% of their wealth to charity. Since that time at least 57 people, with an estimated total net worth of at least $320 billion, have joined this group. For more information, one may view their website “The Giving Pledge,” or view the Wikipedia data which includes links to biographical sketches on most of the group’s members including estimates of their individual net worth. Here are some of the well-known individuals who have signed The Giving Pledge:

It is hard to dispute the good intentions that undoubtedly motivate these altruistic decisions. But what happens if all the wealthy people in the United States decide to give away their fortunes, instead of subjecting them to the estate tax? How much revenue is denied the federal government by virtue of these decisions? The table below calculates that at the current marginal estate tax rate of 45%, if the current members of the billionaire givers club fulfill their pledges, at least $72 billion will be denied the federal treasury via the estate tax.

To put this in perspective, the next table calculates how much taxpayers who are not members of the billionaire givers club, those Americans who are neither billionaires, nor even millionaires, will have to pay in taxes in order to cover the $72 billion that the billionaire givers club has denied the U.S. […] Read More