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US Bancorp (USB), General Electric Company (GE): The Six Most Generous States in America

3. Connecticut
Connecticut weighed in with 35.9% of taxpayers claiming a charitable deduction. Total contributions of $2.3 billion reflected relatively low median contributions of $1,916 per taxpayer. With General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) having its corporate headquarters within the state, the General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) Foundation represents a huge influence on philanthropic activity both inside Connecticut and across the nation. General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) and the foundation also stepped up with donations of medical equipment to one Oklahoma City-area hospital to help handle the influx of patients injured in the Oklahoma tornado.

2. New Jersey
Among New Jersey taxpayers, 36% deducted charitable donations in 2011. State residents gave $4.5 billion, with the typical taxpayer contributing $2,181. Among corporate donors, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, named after one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)‘s foundation both have an important impact on the state’s charitable activity. Merck gave out almost $1.3 billion in cash and products during 2011 in efforts to get its medications into the hands of those who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

1. Maryland
Maryland topped the list with a whopping 40.1% of all tax returns including a deduction for charitable donations. Median contributions of $2,969 led to total giving of $3.9 billion. Numerous private foundations help in the charitable efforts of the state, with a broad-based set of organizations providing support for a large number of different initiatives and charitable missions.

One key to keep in mind
It’s reasonable to argue that this measure of generosity among states is unfair because of the nature of the charitable deduction. In order to deduct donations to charity, you have to itemize your deductions; those who take the standard deduction instead won’t get included in these percentages even if they made charitable gifts. Indeed, among these states, only Virginia managed to crack the top 10 on The Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s overall list. Yet many of the states on this list have relatively high state income and property taxes, which are also deductible items and make it more likely that taxpayers will itemize deductions rather than taking the standard deduction.

The article The 6 Most Generous States in America originally appeared on is written by Dan Caplinger.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends 3M and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric and Johnson & Johnson.

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