Excess Profits, Taxpayer-Subsidized Philanthropy, and the Coronavirus Crisis: Charitable Giving of the Tech Elite in Response to the Pandemic


  • John Torpey PhD Program in Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Hilke Brockmann School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University, Bremen https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9551-8333
  • Braelyn Hendricks PhD Program in Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)




Coronavirus pandemic, tech elite, inequality, philanthropy, tax reform


This paper addresses how the tech elite has benefited financially from the Coronavirus crisis, as well as how they have sought to give back some of their gains in order to help the broader population. We have gathered data on the stock prices, corporate revenues, and profits of the Big Tech firms and on the incomes and wealth of the tech elite, and we compare these winnings with their philanthropic giving during the pandemic year of 2020. We note that tax policies undergird both the explosion of tech profits and the growth of philanthropic giving in response to the crisis. We find that the winners among the tech elite have benefited dramatically from the pandemic without necessarily donating large amounts of money relative to their wealth. We argue that tax reforms are necessary to ensure that more of the social product comes under the democratic control of the public treasury.


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How to Cite

Torpey, J., Brockmann, H. ., & Hendricks, B. . (2021). Excess Profits, Taxpayer-Subsidized Philanthropy, and the Coronavirus Crisis: Charitable Giving of the Tech Elite in Response to the Pandemic. Sociologica, 15(2), 95–116. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/12435