February 16, 2012

Santorums Gave 2.2% of Income to Charity

Rick Santorum and his wife, Karen, gave 2.2 percent of their income to charity from 2007 to 2010, according to tax returns the candidate for the Republican presidential nomination released last night to Politico, a newspaper that covers politics.

The Santorums gave 1.8 percent of their $930,227 in total income to charity in 2010. In 2009, they donated 2.7 percent of their $1,127,266 total income.

The tax returns do not disclose the names of the organizations they supported.

The four years of returns show that the Santorums’ giving is about average for people in their income range who itemize their taxes.

Americans who make $500,000 to $1-million gave on average 2.6 percent of their total income to charity in 2009, the latest year for which the Internal Revenue Service has provided data. People who earn $1-million to $1.5-million gave on average 2.9 percent of their income to charity.

Mr. Santorum’s giving is similar to that of Newt Gingrich, his fellow GOP contender, who gave about 3 percent of his earnings to charity, but far less than Mitt Romney, who gave 13.8 percent of his wealth to charity in 2010. President Obama, meanwhile, gave 13.6 percent of his total income to charity.

Mr. Santorum also created Operation Good Neighbor in 2001, a charity to help low-income people in his home state of Pennsylvania.

The charity, which closed in 2007, spent at least 60 percent of its money on fundraising, consulting, administration, and office rent paid to one of Mr. Santorum’s political allies,  The Washington Post recently reported. Of the $2.58-million raised, 39 percent was given to groups working directly with the needy.

Robert Pratter, a former board member of charity, told The Post that the group's expenses were reasonable for a small nonprofit struggling to raise money on its own.

“We were raising money for these very small mom-and-pop groups. The most effective way to raise money was the way we raised it,” Mr. Pratter told the newspaper.

Dig deeper: Learn about the stands the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination have taken on nonprofit issues.