This Article contrasts the rhetoric of public benefit connected to charity in the law with the reality of private control of charitable organizations. It argues that the tension between the rhetoric and reality have produced norms of entitlement that undermine taxation. It offers an approach to the role of charity under the law by defining the obligations of government in a just society, qualifying the economic framework dominant in the literature concerning charities, and identifying what private charity can achieve that governments cannot. This Article concludes by endorsing the charitable deduction in the tax law on terms consistent with this revised approach.

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