Program on Inequality and the Common Good

Extreme inequalities of income, wealth and opportunity undercut democracy, social solidarity and mobility, economic stability, and many other aspects of our personal and public lives.  The Program on Inequality and the Common Good focuses on these and other dangers that income disparities pose for the U.S.

Through research and reporting, this program encourages policy interventions that can reduce extreme wealth inequality, and close the growing gap between the rich and poor. Recent reports have examined the estate tax, the racial wealth gap, inequality in philanthropy, and other topics related to extreme wealth concentration. The central theme of the program is that without significant reform and a systemic view of inequality on both a national and global level, the overall wealth divide will continue to grow exponentially.

Latest Work

We should be skeptical of billionaires who pledge to share their wealth

Billionaires may claim huge tax deductions for moving money into foundations or donor-advised funds with little to no guarantee that money will ever make it to working charities.

‘Tis Always the Season for Billionaire Philanthropy

Americans are their most charitable at year’s end. But even on Giving Tuesday, billionaire donors crowd out the impact of small-dollar gifts.

Inequality-Fighting Ballot Initiatives Win Big

Voters approved proposals to tax the rich, build worker power, and make housing and education more affordable.

Do the Forbes Philanthropy Scores Give Foundation Donors Too Much Credit?

The giving estimates behind the scores include some outlays from private foundations that shouldn’t actually count as charitable giving.

What’s driving the gap between the richest and poorest Americans

Yahoo Finance quoted Sarah Anderson on CEO pay and Chuck Collins on billionaire wealth and cited IPS findings as part of examining income inequality.

These US states are billionaire tax havens (The Marc Steiner Show)

Marc Steiner spoke with Chuck Collins and Kalena Thomhave about their new IPS report on the 13 US states that the worst enablers of billionaire wealth hiding.

The High Cost of Beacon Hill Inaction

IPS Report Documents Missing Millions as Massachusetts State Legislature Fails to Act on Boston’s Luxury Transfer Tax

Dismantling the Lucky Sperm Club, One Baby Bond Program at a Time

Cities and states are experimenting with trust fund accounts to narrow the racial wealth divide.

Congress Takes Historic Step to Tax Stock Buybacks

This provision of the Inflation Reduction Act will discourage corporations from siphoning resources from worker wages and productive investments for share repurchases that inflate CEO pay.

A Proposed Wealth Tax on Colombia’s 4,700+ Richest Would Raise $1 Billion

An Institute for Policy Studies analysis of the progressive tax proposed by incoming Colombian President Gustavo Petro would impact a small percentage of the nation’s wealthiest while raising millions to address widening inequality.

The Rise of the Monster DAFs

Rising like monsters from the deep, donor-advised funds (DAFs) have finally caught up with foundations as the wealthy donor’s charitable warehousing vehicle of choice — and are poised to eclipse them.

Reining in Philanthropic Megadonors: What the Data Tell Us Is Needed

While megadonor gifts are celebrated, the growing dominance of large donors speaks to an erosion of democratic values. This must be addressed now.

Report: Gilded Giving 2022

Our nation’s charitable system is in danger of becoming a taxpayer-subsidized platform of private power for the ultra-wealthy.

Giving USA 2022: Charity Sector Stable but Increasingly Top-Heavy

Giving USA 2022 is the gold-standard report on charitable giving in the United States. But this year’s story glosses over two important pieces of long-term context: what has happened to the giving capacity of typical Americans, and where much of the charitable giving has actually gone.

New Ipsos Poll Shows Broad Support for Bold Charity Reform

Concerns about warehousing charity dollars and tax subsidies for wealthy donors and perpetual foundations transcend partisan divide.

Time To End the Capital Gains Rate Giveaway

Our tax loopholes let marginal and arbitrary differences in facts give rise to markedly different tax outcomes.

Gustavo Petro’s Victory Brings an Opportunity to Reverse Inequality in Colombia

Running on a platform of gender equity, progressive taxation, and environmental protection, Colombia’s first leftist president could bring much-needed change to a deeply unequal nation.

The Climate Case for Taxing Wealth

Vast fortunes rely on destroying our planet. Taxing those fortunes to fund climate action could give us a shot at survival.

Visualize This: Donor-Advised Funds As Largest Recipients of Charitable Gifts

Watch this stunning time lapse illustration of the rise of donor-advised funds (DAFs) as the largest recipients of charitable gifts.

Bay State Billionaires

Massachusetts billionaires’ wealth surges 46 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.