42% percent of charitable donors stopped giving because “they were being solicited too often,” according to a survey of 20,000 wealthy households by Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy.
The big blue slice of this pie represents the 73 percent of New Mexico taxpayers who make less than $50,000 a year, according to Internal Revenue Service data from 2007. The tiny green slice represents those who earned more than $200,000. The red slice includes everyone in between.
The data actually understates the size of the wealth gap. The top bracket includes only 18,499 New Mexicans. And when divided by their collective gross income, their average annual earnings are closer to $500,000.
Whereas the poorest group relies mainly on wages, almost everyone in the wealthiest bracket reported making a sizable share of income from interest. On average, New Mexico's wealthiest made $21,460 in interest—that's money they made simply because they already had money. Only 1 in 4 in the bottom group reported interest income—and then, it only amounted to an average of $1,473.
One of the arguments for keeping income taxes low, especially on the rich, is that wealthy people give a lot of money to charity. While that's true, the second chart puts philanthropy in perspective.
The purple bar represents the average charitable contribution—$16,800—made by the wealthiest New Mexicans. The green bar represents their average interest income. Collectively, this group earned $381 million in interest—significantly less than the $264 million they gave to tax-exempt organizations.
The poorest New Mexicans were relatively more generous; their purple bar would be longer. Some 53,000 people in the bottom income bracket made $94 million in charitable contributions, averaging $1,783. (Corey Pein)