With great wealth comes great responsibility. That’s the thinking of most American millionaires, according to a survey released today by PNC Wealth Management.

Almost six in 10 millionaires believe they have an obligation to give back to their communities, unchanged from 2008, when the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, the firm said in a statement. Nearly half of the millionaires, 49%, say they agree with Warren Buffet’s call on wealthy individuals to pay more in taxes as well as give more to charitable causes, even though they do not believe they “are in the same league” as he is.

The survey shows that almost one in four millionaires (24%) donated between $25,000 and $999,000 in 2010, up from 12% in 2008. It also shows that 21% plan to increase their spending, while 46% plan no change and 22% intend to cut back. A little more than one in 10 (11%) are concerned with their ability to give, down from 20% in 2008, the survey found. “It is encouraging to see that millionaires, considering today’s economic headwinds, recognize a personal responsibility to give back to perpetuate the legacy of a ‘cared-for society,’” R. Bruce Bickel, senior vice president of PNC Wealth Management, said in a statement.

The survey reveals little consensus among millionaires as to how to improve the nation’s economic health. Almost one-third say the single best idea for a better economy is to “reduce taxes on individuals and businesses,” while 20% support raising taxes on wealthy individuals. If taxes increase, nearly four in 10 millionaires would change their investment strategy and one in four would reduce philanthropy, according to the findings. 

Despite their divergent views on policy, millionaires are united in their perception of how the government is functioning, the company said. Three in four felt that the U.S. government has serious flaws in how it’s working. Eighty-five percent said the U.S. political system is flawed, and 47% said the U.S. financial system is flawed.

The online survey—commissioned by PNC to identify attitudes about wealth among high-net-worth individuals—polled 1,097 individuals, including 555 millionaires with assets of $1 million or more. It was conducted from September 15 to October 11, 2011, PNC Wealth Management said.

Margarida Correia writes for Bank Investment Consultant.




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