Truth discovered – Where the $54 billion drop in “itemized charitable deductions” came from

Ok, not quite the big lie I had claimed – but definitely not a drop in charitable giving of $54 billion!!  And, definitely misleading and not an accurate picture of the impact of the 2018 Tax Plan on charitable giving.

I will give the author of the initial MarketWatch article, Leslie Albrecht, credit that everything she wrote was technically true (not the case with Newsweek and others who picked up the story).

Read the headline carefully – Americans slashed their “charitable deductions” by $54 billion after Republican tax-code overhaul.  Click the picture if you want to see the story.

Yes, if you look at the IRS website’s data on 2017 and 2018, you will find $54 billion less in itemized charitable contributions listed between the two years. BUT – those numbers are incomplete – as the IRS tells you!!!  The highest net wealth tax payers typically file after their extension by October 15th!!!  In other words, the biggest donors haven’t filed their tax returns yet for 2018 (and the IRS 2017 numbers are not even close to being final, too)!! So, the biggest donors’ itemized deductions are not on the charts yet.

In other words, the numbers she pulled from 2017 and 2018 are completely useless, and very deceptive.  As I mentioned in my last post, overall charitable giving actually went up between 2017 and 2018.  Yes, individual giving was slightly down but not enough to make any dramatic assumptions or conclusions.

If this stuff interests you, check out a presentation I am giving in September that includes this topic and more about the Great Wealth Transfer:

Is the Great Wealth Transfer Finally Here?

Here is one more headline to laugh at:





  1. Jonathan, the article acknowledges that there are returns still to be filed, allowing for increases in the final giving numbers when October 15 returns are analyzed. It’s not a “big lie” that charitable giving may have decreased due in part (perhaps, a substantial part) to itemized deduction limitations for some taxpayers. Her numbers are not “useless” and are not “very deceptive.”

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