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Somerset Hills Towns Among Most Charitable in U.S., Report Says

Average Basking Ridge residence contributed $3,607 in tax year 2008, Far Hills average was $25,015, group says.

Towns in northern Somerset County are known for having a relatively high household incomes, but apparently the residents of the Somerset Hills are willing to share some of their wealth, says an online report issued Monday by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

All of the five Somerset Hills ranked as higher than average in amounts of giving to philanthropic causes, said the report, which was supposed to be based on 2008 tax returns filed with the IRS.

Median total contributions as a percentage of discretionary income varied in the towns — from 3 percent in Basking Ridge and Peapack and Gladstone Borough to 4.4 percent in Far Hills.

The report also included median income levels on filed tax returns in the towns from that year, from a more middle-income $52,475 in Bedminster Township to $565,197 in Far Hills.

The study said that Basking Ridge ranked 434 for total giving out of almost 29,000 tax returns tracked in its category. That translated into a total of $36.8-million in charitable contributions reported to the IRS that year, or a median contribution of $3,607 on tax returns reporting median discretionary income of $120,423.

In Bernardsville, the town's residents reportedly handed out a collective $22 million in charitable contributions that year, or a median amount of $8,292 on a taxable household with a median discretionary income of $196,797.

Bedminster Township residents reportedly contributed $8.8 million to charity, or a median amount of $1,970 on filed tax returns. Far Hills Borough, with a 2010 census population of just over 900 residents, reportedly gave a collective $26.4 million, or a median amount of slightly more than $25,000 on tax returns reporting a median discretionary income level of $565,197.

Peapack and Gladstone's residents reportedly gave out a median amount of $4,056, or a total $3.2 million, with tax returns showing a median discretionary income of $137,374 in 2008, the report said.

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