PBS Travel Guru Rick Steves is Donating His Tax Cut to Charity

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August 29, 2011; Source: Wall Street Journal | Travel guru and PBS mainstay Rick Steves says he is giving the $1 million he will be saving as a result of the extended Bush tax cuts to charity, and he believes that others should do the same. “Over the last decade, my tax burden has decreased even as public funding for important local programs and institutions has been decimated—a trend I find alarming,” he said in a written statement. “I see it as a civic duty for businessmen like me, who’ve directly benefited from our vibrant communities to do our fair share,” he wrote.

Steves is not the only advocate of such a strategy—a group of professors from Cornell and Yale suggested the same idea earlier this year and actually set up a website, giveitbackforjobs.com (complete with a handy-dandy tax-cut calculator), to encourage folks to give their tax cuts to charity. “When the Bush administration took power in 2001, it enacted massive tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthiest Americans,” the professors state on their site. “These beneficiaries represented the very segment of American society that had already seen their share of national income balloon over the prior generation.” The professors suggest that people “should give what they can afford—in large amounts or small—back to the public, by supporting organizations that promote fairness and economic growth.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Kimble Forrister

    Isn’t that the same strategy UFE has been promoting for years at responsiblewealth.org?

  • Mike Lapham

    Thanks, Kimble. Yes, that’s right. Responsible Wealth (a project of United for a Fair Economy) is trying to get the voices of our 700 upper-income and wealthy members into public debates on taxes and corporate accountability.

    Since 1998, Responsible Wealth has been organizing our Tax Fairness Pledge (http://faireconomy.org/tax-fairness-pledge), which allows people to easily and confidentially calculate their tax savings online. This year, we’re focusing on capital gains being taxed so much lower (15%) than ordinary income.

    We also have a neato interactive graph this year (http://faireconomy.org/tax-fairness-pledge) that allows you to click and see people at various income levels talking about their taxes.

    We encourage people to donate their tax savings to organizations working for more progressive taxes at the federal and state level (poetic justice!). Maybe Rick will join us! Here’s that link: http://faireconomy.org/projects/responsible_wealth/tax_fairness_pledge/step_2_take_the_pledge