The silly season is upon us.  Yes, we’re neck deep in the 2016 presidential election cycle. My favorite thing to do this time of year (other than enjoy the summer sunshine) is to search presidential tax returns to see which candidates are most generous.  This is often a telling exercise as most candidates are quick to tell voters how much they “care” about their fellow Americans.  I like to ignore the rhetoric and see who “walks the talk.”

Here are the results for the major political players in 2016:

  • Hillary and Bill Clinton:  Adjusted gross income: $28 million.  Gifts to charity: $3,022,700.  Largest gift: $3 million to the Clinton Family Foundation.  Percentage of income to charity: 10.8%
  • Bernie Sanders: Adjusted gross income: $205,271.  Gifts to charity: $10,217. Percentage of income to charity: 5%
  • Donald Trump: tax returns not released
  • Ted Cruz: Adjusted gross income: $2,040,840.  Gifts to charity: $19,137. Percentage of income to charity: 0.9%
  • Mike Pence: tax returns not released
  • Tim Kaine: tax returns not released

For comparison sake:

  • President Obama (2014): Adjusted gross income: $477,383.  Gifts to charity: $70,712. Percentage of income to charity: 14.8%
  • Joe Biden (2014): Adjusted gross income: $392,279. Gifts to charity: $6,920. Percentage of income to charity: 1.7%
  • Mitt Romney (2011): Adjusted gross income: $13,696,951.  Gifts to charity: $4,020,772. Percentage of income to charity: 29.4%
  • Paul Ryan (2011): Adjusted gross income: $323,416. Gifts to charity: $13,000. Percentage of income to charity: 4%

Of the current candidates, Hillary and Bill Clinton gave the most to charity (nearly 11%). Since Trump has yet to release his records, we can’t draw any conclusions regarding his giving (but we can draw conclusions regarding his transparency as a candidate).

By comparison, both President Obama and Mitt Romney were more generous than our current crop of candidates.  Given that the average American gives 2% to 3% of their income to charity (depending on income level), Mitt Romney giving nearly 30% of his income to charity makes him an outlier for his generosity.