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Philanthropy: the Epitome of Unselfishness?

April 16, 2012,
Claire Montanaro

Motivation lies at the heart of this polarised discussion which has on the one hand recipient charities and very wealthy individuals arguing for the retention of favourable tax treatment of philanthropists and on the other, a government wishful to ensure the rich pay taxes fairly. The more I think about it, the more I wonder what philanthropy really means: Until now I have believed it to be altruistic giving in the interests of the needy without seeking reward or recognition for it, but now I see it, for some people at least, as a means of offsetting tax while looking good. Is this really what charitable giving is all about? The charitable sector and other commentators claim that if the proposed tax rules come into force, donors will limit their contributions accordingly. However, there is nothing to prevent them continuing to give albeit at the expense of their tax bill – and for someone with millions they can afford it if the will is there. Figures published today show that the wealthy in the UK on average pay less than 20% in tax through clever tax avoidance schemes, which is unsurprising but disappointing. True philanthropy comes from the heart without seeking to gain from it personally and I know many people with relatively little money who give as much as they can to causes they support without looking for any reward, just as I know some rich individuals who do much for society without anyone knowing – including the tax collector. There is a whiff of hypocrisy surrounding the controversy of the tax treatment of charitable giving, both from the large charities the running costs of which absorb many of its receipts before they reach the object of need, and from the protesting philanthropists. Some honesty would be good, and also more fairness, in the interest of all concerned. Transparency would be wonderful.]]>

Claire Montanaro is a spiritual teacher, channel and blogger with special interest in esoteric philosophy and the world in transition. Loves nature and wildlife. Author of "Spiritual Wisdom”.

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