Without knowing the exact structure of the fund, it’s unclear where the $2 billion will come from. If it comes straight out of Bezos’s own pocket, which many assume it will, he will be eligible for steep tax deductions. Thirty percent of the gift will be deductible if he sets up a private foundation; 50 percent if it’s a donor-advised fund.
The bigger question is the size of the fund, which is smaller compared to what other high net worth individuals in the tech industry, like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, have pledged to give back. Bezos hasn’t joined the Giving Pledge either, a popular campaign that has some of the world’s richest individuals commit to giving away the majority of their wealth.
Bezos, however, hinted in an interview Thursday that he could potentially add more to the $2 billion commitment as the initiative grows. Leslie Lenkowsky, a philanthropic studies professor at the University of Indiana, said Bezos’s idea of starting small before expanding, commonly known as an “acorns to oaks” approach, is not uncommon among wealthy individuals.
“There’s a good argument to start with a relatively smaller amount, and then when you see it’s successful, expand it,” Lenkowsky said.