Should University Donations Trigger Tax Breaks for the Wealthy?

Universities big and small receive donations from many different sources, including wealthy alumni. However, not all donations are created equal and because the wealthy donors get a huge tax break for their significant donations, some wonder if that is really fair.

For example, Nike co-founder, Phil Knight, recently donated $400 million to Stanford, where he attended business school. That donation will give Knight a $158 million tax break. Some find that in of itself unfair, but others question why some schools, which already have deep pockets anyway, get such large sums of money without being taxed for it? Plus, the majority of the donations are given to these top schools, while other less prestigious universities are often left scrambling for much-needed resources.

However, on the flip side, many donors would argue that they make these donations for true philanthropic purposes and not for the added benefit of a large tax break. Some counter-argue that all the donation money could be used for better purposes. However, there’s no question that the nation’s top universities help the country in many industries, as well as give the economy a boost in many forms as well, including training thousands of the brightest minds.

Of course, it’s an argument that has no easy answer, but probably one that won’t get much traction, because wealthy alumni have always been able to donate their money to the universities or causes they choose. That is not likely to change any time soon.