Christianity Today reports on donation rates at churches:
Twenty percent of American Christians (19 percent of Protestants; 28 percent of Catholics) give nothing to the church. Among Protestants, 10 percent of evangelicals, 28 percent of mainline folk, 33 percent of fundamentalists, and 40 percent of liberal Protestants give nothing. The vast majority of American Christians give very little—the mean average is 2.9 percent. Only 12 percent of Protestants and 4 percent of Catholics tithe.Comparing those rates with federal income tax rates:
A small minority of American Christians give most of the total donated. Twenty percent of all Christians give 86.4 percent of the total. The most generous five percent give well over half (59.6 percent) of all contributions. But higher-income American Christians give less as a percentage of household income than poorer American Christians.
- 20% of Christians gave nothing vs. 33% of tax filers that paid nothing (over a longer period it averages closer to 20-25%).
- 20% of all Christians accounted for 86.4% of revenue vs. the top 25% accounted for 86.27% of tax revenue.
- 5% of all Christians accounted for 59.6% of revenue vs. the top 5% accounted for 60.14% of tax revenue.
- Higher-income Christians gave less as a % of income vs. higher-income tax filers paid more as a % of income (-6.5% for the poorest vs. 20% for the richest).
- Mean average of donations for Christians was 2.9% vs. 9% for income taxes.
I sometimes wonder what would happen if taxes were completely voluntary. If church donation rates are any indicator, the total amount of revenue would go down by a lot, the tax rate would become regressive, and the percentage of total revenue paid accounted for by the rich account would stay pretty much the same.
More info on income tax payments here, here and here. And if you were wondering, Nicholas Kristof finds that conservatives give more than liberals.