The Effect of Tax Price on Donations: Evidence from Canada

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 08/19

Date: September 2019


Ross Hickey
Brad Minaker
A. Abigail Payne
Joanne Roberts
Justin Smith


Estimating the responsiveness of charitable donations to changes in tax incentives is more than estimating a single number. Giving to charity is unlike normal consumption – it involves supporting the delivery of privately-provided public goods. Age and income may influence how tax incentives to give affect both the decision to give as well as how much to give. Using a large administrative dataset from Canada to estimate the tax price elasticity of donations, we estimate that the tax price elasticity of charitable donations is -1 when it is restricted to be the same for all individuals. Across the income distribution, however, we observe an inverse U-shaped distribution in the elasticity that ranges from -1.4 to -0.18. We also find differences in the elasticity across age groupings, and that for the population the elasticity is driven more through the intensive than extensive margin.

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