News and analysis
March 10, 2016

Policy Proposals and Giving: How Trump, Cruz, Clinton, and Sanders Compare

With the race for the White House narrowing to four likely contenders, The Chronicle mined the tax records, Federal Election Commission filings, and public statements of Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to create snapshots of their charitable giving and activities.

Donald Trump

Sean Rayford, Getty Images

Giving rate: Unknown. Mr. Trump has not made his tax returns public.

Gifts to charity: Unknown

Adjusted gross income: Unknown. In a 2015 Federal Election Commission filing Mr. Trump reported pre-tax income of more than $380 million, mainly from property sales and rent, brand royalties, and investments.

Net worth: $4.5 billion, as estimated by Forbes. Mr. Trump has said he is worth considerably more than that.

Personal Giving

His campaign manager told CNN earlier this month that Mr. Trump has personally given "over $100 million" to charity. But because the real-estate and entertainment mogul has declined to make his tax records available, it is impossible to track his actual giving.

Foundation Giving

Mr. Trump is president of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which awarded $591,450 in grants in 2014, according to the most recently available tax records. It received most of its money from other donors. Mr. Trump’s most recent contribution to his foundation was $30,000 in 2008.

Foundation Focus

The Trump Foundation gave to a wide assortment of nonprofits in 2014, including the Citizens United Foundation, a conservative advocacy group, to which he donated $100,000; the Alliance for Lupus Research, which got $10,000; and the Anti-Defamation League, which received $26,500.

Charitable-Deduction Policy

Nonprofit advocates for the charitable deduction have criticized Mr. Trump’s tax plan. While it maintains the deduction for many tax filers, the proposal would reduce itemized deductions — including the one for charitable giving — by 3 percent for wealthy Americans (couples earning more than $309,900).

Campaign Note

In the run-up to the Iowa caucuses in January, Mr. Trump skipped a Republican debate and instead held a rally in support of veterans causes. The gambit brought in more than $6 million, he says, including more than $1.6 million raised through a website maintained by the Trump Foundation. CNN and The Washington Post reported on March 3 that veterans groups had received only $2.94 million of the $6 million Trump said the effort raised.

Ted Cruz

Jill Knight, Raleigh News & Observer, TNS, Getty Images

Giving rate: Unknown

Gifts to charity: Unknown

Adjusted gross income (2014): $1,207,838 (according to tax return filed jointly with his wife, Heidi)

Assets: $2.1 million to $4.7 million, as reported in a 2015 Federal Election Commission filing

Personal Giving

According to tax records that Mr. Cruz released during his 2012 Senate race, he and his wife donated less than 1 percent of their combined income to charity from 2006 to 2010. The records do not specify recipients. Since then, the candidate has released two-page summaries of the couple’s tax filings that do not mention any charitable gifts.

Board Leadership

The Texas Republican is a trustee of the Free Enterprise Institute. As a Houston high-school student, he honed his speaking skills and debated the U.S. Constitution as a member of the conservative nonprofit, then called the Free Enterprise Education Center.

Charitable-Deduction Policy

Mr. Cruz calls for a "flat tax" of 10 percent on individual income and for lower corporate taxes. He would eliminate all deductions except for those on charitable donations and mortgage interest.

Campaign Note

In January, a SuperPAC called Americans United for Values ran radio ads in Iowa criticizing the Cruzes for not being more generous. The group noted that Mr. Cruz identifies as a Southern Baptist and was angling for the conservative evangelical vote, yet he and Heidi Cruz did not follow the practice of tithing by giving at least 10 percent of their income to charity.

Hillary Clinton

J.D. Pooley, Getty Images

Giving rate (2014): 10.8 percent

Adjusted gross income: $27,946,490 (according to a tax return filed jointly with her husband, Bill Clinton)

Gifts to charity: $3,022,700

Net worth: Hillary Clinton alone is worth between $11 million and $52 million, as reported in her 2015 Federal Election Commission filing.

Personal giving

According to their joint 2014 tax return, the most recent year they’ve made available, most of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s giving — $3 million — went to the Clinton Foundation. They also gave $20,000 to the First United Methodist Church, $2,500 to St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church, and $200 to the Hot Springs high-school class of ‘64.


Ms. Clinton sat on the board of the Clinton Foundation until April 2015, when she resigned with the launch of her presidential campaign. Mr. Clinton and their daughter Chelsea Clinton are board members as well as the public faces of the foundation.

Foundation Focus

The foundation, which had revenue of $177.8 million in 2014, according to the most recently available tax filings, focuses on climate change, economic development, girls and women, global health, and health and wellness. The annual Clinton Global Initiative summit in New York regularly draws world leaders and A-list celebrities.

Charitable-Deduction Policy

Under Hillary Clinton’s tax proposal, the charitable deduction would be exempt from a 28 percent cap on deductions and exclusions.

Campaign Note

No candidate’s charity work has faced more scrutiny than Ms. Clinton’s. Critics have questioned whether donations to the Clinton Foundation were made to curry favor with the politically powerful family or to influence the State Department when Ms. Clinton was secretary of state.

Bernie Sanders

Whitney Hayward, Portland Press Herald, Getty Images

Giving Rate: about 5 percent

Adjusted gross income (2014): about $205,000 (according to tax return filed jointly with his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders)

Net worth: $436,013 in 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

Gifts to charity: $10,367

Personal giving

Mr. Sanders and his wife donated $8,350 to undisclosed charities in 2014, campaign spokesman Michael Briggs told several news outlets.

In addition, Mr. Sanders’s Federal Election Commission disclosure filing states that in 2014 he donated just over $1,000 in royalties from a book he wrote. He also reported donating $850 he received for an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher to an undisclosed charity.

Charitable-Deduction Policy

Mr. Sanders’s tax plan would cap personal exemptions and itemized deductions at 30.2 percent of amounts claimed, according to the Tax Policy Center. This would reduce the tax benefit for higher-income donors. His proposals would make bequests and charitable gifts of appreciated property subject to capital-gains taxes.

Campaign Note

In 1983, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Sanders began a speech at a fundraising event for the United Way by saying, "I don’t believe in charities." He later explained his point by saying about donors: "Most of them were conservative Republicans busy cutting services to low-income people. Then they go collect nickels and dimes, mostly from working people, and congratulate each other on their generosity. I find that hypocritical."