From the upaseka precepts:

"He levies one sixth of people’s wealth as taxes."

I used to just think this was prosocial advice, but for much of Buddhism's history, it has been state supported. Paying taxes mean supporting state Buddhism. But Buddhism isn't state supported anymore and even when it was, those taxes paid for military and government bureaucracy in addition to Buddhist temples.

In Christianity, some sects have a policy of expecting 1/10 of income.

So, other than a rhetorical dodge (It depends!), do we have any modern examples of recommended dana as a percent of income, or failing that, numbers on what constitutes a fair contribution towards the support of organized religion in modern, western (US or European) countries?

2 Answers 2


From DN Book 3 8:265, Buddha said 25% is to be consumed, 50% is to be in investment/trading, 25% is to be in keep for retirement or emergency safe. This does not include donation reserve to answer your question but by doing justified modification of above dividing, 20% should go to donation if we have to calculate proportionally.

  • 1
    Page 6 of Dharmafarer's commentary says that donation "for supporting worthy religious (Dharma work)" might be one fifth of the 25% that's for personal use, so 5% (not 20%) total.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 20, 2016 at 20:49
  • What numbering scheme do you use to get "DN Book 3 8:265"? I'm guessing you're referring to the Sigalovada Sutta, which sources like Access to Insight refer to as "DN 31" or "D iii 180".
    – ChrisW
    Nov 20, 2016 at 20:51
  • @ChrisW thanks, that was the # I was looking for. As an aside, this plan is 80% savings in modern terms! I can't see how this could happen unless they were talking about just cash income which would have been a small fraction of inkind income from say, farming. Nov 22, 2016 at 22:53
  • @MatthewMartin that was the # I was looking for Was it? It's not "modern". I can't see how 80% savings could happen Well, the median income in Toronto is $75K/year; my yearly personal living expenses there were about $15K/year: so... Something I find remarkable: 50% reinvested? If I had done that (created a business to invest in) maybe I would have been an employer now rather than an employee.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 22, 2016 at 23:11

There is no hard and fast rule. Just give what you can afford to give. In times you are short give less and in times you are well to do give more. This way giving will not be a burden and will help you reap more benefit as you are not mechanically doing but doing it out of strong competition without attachment. If you set a proportion then this becomes like a tax. Many people do not pay taxes with joy thinking "Oh how wonderful, my tax returns will benefit many!"

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