Which Australian State Is the Most Charitable?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recently released Taxation Statistics 2009-10, a broad collection of data compiled from income tax returns for that financial year. If taxation statistics are the kind of thing that gets your juices flowing then check it out – the report and associated tables contain a veritable wealth of information.

Amongst other things, it shows deductions claimed by taxpayers for gifts or donations to charities — including welfare agencies, hospitals, research institutes, environmental groups, and arts organisations. From these data I thought it might be interesting to see which of the Australian States and Territories is the most relatively charitable — using tax deductions claimed as a proxy for actual donations made.

I used the Selected items, by sex and State/Territory of residence, 2009-10 income year data to compare taxpayers’ deductions claimed for gifts or donations to charities, relative to their total incomes. The average income per taxable individual in Australia was $66,502 per annum in 2009-10, of which an average $216 (proportionally, 0.32% of income) was claimed for charity. The States and Territories are summarised in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Charity as a proportion of income, States & Territories, 2009-10

The data in the table are graphed below. The red horizontal line is the Australian average against which we can compare the individual States and Territories.

Figure 1: Charity as a proportion of income, States & Territories, 2009-10

New South Welshpersons and Australian Capital Territorians really pull their weight when it comes to donating to charity. They have some of the highest average individual incomes in the country ($69,431 p.a. and $72,007 p.a., respectively), but then really come to the party with the highest proportion of that income going to charitable organisations (0.40% or $277, and 0.39% or $279, respectively).

Western Australians on the other hand really need to lift their game. Despite an average annual individual income of $71,690 (second highest in the country), they were only half as charitable as their eastern cousins mentioned above — only 0.22% ($161) of their income went to charity in the 2009-10 financial year. The Northern Territory recorded the lowest proportion of income to charity with 0.19% of $64,527 ($124) claimed as gifts and donations.

Or perhaps they actually gave a lot to charity, but then didn’t claim it as a deduction come tax-time. Statistics can be a bit dodgy like that.