Making Sense of Tax Incentives for Philanthropic Giving

Making Sense of Tax Incentives for Philanthropic Giving

The latest report by the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (India) examines whether tax incentives induce or increase philanthropic giving in twelve economies. 


One of the challenges that APC comes across in our work is finding comprehensive research on the social sector and philanthropy. Recently, the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, India published a Report on Tax Incentives for Philanthropic Giving.

In this report, they assess whether tax incentives induce or increase philanthropic giving in twelve economies, including Singapore, by looking at numerous previously published studies.

The report finds mixed results, but most interesting was that tax incentives do not play a significant role for the average giver, and are only, at best, moderately important for the wealthy.

For APC, this serves as an interesting resource, alongside other recently published pieces such as the OECD report on Taxation and Philanthropy and the Routledge Handbook of Taxation and Philanthropy, which highlights the growing attention on this topic.

However, whereas tax is often listed as a leading motivator for philanthropists in Western countries, in our own conversations with philanthropists for the on-going Transnational Giving Asia Feasibility Study and Asia Community Foundation projects, we heard sentiments similar to the CSIP report that tax incentives are not the primary motivator for givers in the region.

When we have conversations with peers and policymakers, we often note that the main challenges and frustrations for philanthropists are not about tax incentives. Instead, it is regulations that impede the flexibility or scope of giving, such as restrictions on what forms giving can take or what types of organisations can receive such funding, that further complicate the giving process. You can see CSIP’s report for more details on tax incentives, including the different forms that tax incentives can take and the challenge of data availability in the sector.