+Fleischer, Miranda Perry, University of Illinois College of Law, Why Limit Charity?(provided by: SSRN) (U Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE07-020) (June 2007)
"In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress temporarily lifted one of the most puzzling limits in the tax Code: the cap that prevents an individual from claiming a charitable deduction greater than 50% of her income, even if she gives more than half her income to charity. Although scholars often criticize the cap in passing for creating unnecessary complexity, few have explored its theoretical underpinnings, and those who have appear hard-pressed to find a satisfactory justification.
"This Article fills that void by proposing two complementary explanations for the AGI limits, one grounded in economic theory and one in political philosophy. The economic explanation proceeds directly from the literature conceptualizing the charitable deduction as a way of overcoming market and government failure for various public goods by spurring non-profits to produce them. It suggests that the AGI limits reflect a bargain between individuals whose preferred public goods are fully funded by the government and those whose projects are only partially subsidized. The philosophical explanation is anchored by the idea of reciprocity inherent in liberal democratic theory. It argues that allowing some individuals to pay no taxes, even if supporting a 'good' cause, is tantamount to allowing them to opt out of a previously agreed-to scheme of cooperation and undermines the stability of our democratic society."—Abstract.
"We investigate determinants of private and public generosity to Katrina victims using an artifactual field experiment. In this experiment, respondents from the general population first viewed a short audiovisual presentation that manipulated respondents' perceptions of the income, race, and deservingness of Katrina victims in one of two small cities. Respondents then decided how to split $100 between themselves and a charity helping Katrina victims in this small city. We also collected survey data on subjective support for government spending to help the Katrina victims in the cities. We find, first, that our income manipulation had a significant effect on giving; respondents gave more when they perceived the victims to be poorer. Second, the race and deservingness manipulations had virtually no effect on average giving. Third, the averages mask substantial racial bias among sub-groups of our sample. For instance, whites who identify with their ethnic or racial group strongly biased their giving against blacks while whites who do not identify with their ethnic or racial group biased their giving in favor of blacks. Finally, subjective support for government spending to help Katrina victims was significantly influenced by both our race and deservingness manipulations, but not by the income manipulation. White respondents supported significantly less public spending for black victims and significantly more for victims who were described in more flattering terms, such as being helpful and law-abiding."—Abstract.
This article begins with a critical account of what occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This critique serves as the backdrop for a discussion of whether there are international laws or norms that give poor, black Katrina victims the right to return to and resettle in New Orleans. In framing this discussion, this article first briefly explores some of the housing deprivations suffered by Katrina survivors that have led to widespread displacement and dispossession. The article then discusses two of the chief barriers to the return of poor blacks to New Orleans: the broad perception of a race-crime nexus and the general effect of the imposition of outsider status on poor, black people by dominant groups. Finally, the article explores the international law concept of the right of return and its expression as a domestic, internal norm via standards addressing internally displaced persons, and considers how such a domestic right of return might be applicable to the Katrina victims."
"The attached report presents the results of a review of the Special Transient Accommodations Program for the hotel/motel lodging of evacuees of Hurricane Katrina under FEMA contracts...awarded to the American Red Cross and Corporate Lodging Consultants.... The [four reportable conditions] included non-validation of eligibility, inability to validate occupancy, excessive billing of room rates and inability to ensure billing integrity. The review also noted other matters that impacted the contracts."—Matt Jadacki, Deputy Inspector General, Disaster Assistance Oversight.
"In our December 6, 2006, testimony, GAO stated that FEMA made tens of millions of dollars of potentially improper and/or fraudulent payments associated with both hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These payments include $17 million in rental assistance paid to individuals to whom FEMA had already provided free housing through trailers or apartments. In one case, FEMA provided free housing to 10 individuals in apartments in Plano, Texas, while at the same time it sent these individuals $46,000 to cover out-of-pocket housing expenses. In addition, several of these individuals certified to FEMA that they needed rental assistance.
"FEMA made nearly $20 million in duplicate payments to thousands of individuals who claimed damages to the same property from both hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA also made millions in potentially improper and/or fraudulent payments to nonqualified aliens who were not eligible for [FEMA's Individuals and Households Program]. For example, FEMA paid at least $3 million to more than 500 ineligible foreign students at four universities in the affected areas. This amount likely understates the total payments to ineligible foreign students because it does not cover all colleges and universities in the area. FEMA also provided potentially improper and/or fraudulent IHP assistance to other ineligible non-U.S. residents, despite having documentation indicating their ineligibility.
"Finally, FEMA's difficulties in identifying and collecting improper payments further emphasized the importance of implementing an effective fraud, waste, and abuse prevention system. For example, GAO previously estimated improper and potentially fraudulent payments related to the IHP application process to be $1 billion through February 2006. As of November 2006, FEMA identified about $290 million in overpayments and collected about $7 million."—What GAO Found.