October 01, 2016

Why I Give, and Why You Should, Too

By Marvin S. C. Dang

The ABA is well known for initiating national conversations on many significant legal issues. But it’s the ABA’s positive impact on those issues that draws ABA members, such as me, to support its public service and educational programs.

The ABA Fund for Justice and Education [http://www.american bar.org/groups/departments_offices/fund_justice_education.html], which is the ABA’s 501(c)(3) charitable arm, enables our profession to have a meaningful, definitive, and substantive impact on issues such as:

Assisting experienced lawyers and America’s families—The programs and publications of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division [americanbar.org/srlawyers] assist ABA members and their families on such issues as social security retirement benefits, Alzheimer’s and dementia, elder-abuse prevention, health care and health insurance, succession planning, and long-term care planning.

Overcoming gender discrimination—The women who became lawyers in the 1970s and earlier faced discrimination and unique challenges. The SLD’s Women Trailblazers in the Law Project [ambar.org/trailblazers] captures the oral

histories of these trailblazers by memorializing their stories.

My charitable giving to the ABA allows me to combine one of my professional goals—supporting public service and educational programs that impact justice—with one of my financial goals, which is to minimize my yearly tax burden. There can be substantive tax benefits when donating to a qualified charity such as the ABA FJE, which supports about 200 public service and educational programs.

Of course, you should consult a tax advisor about the best practices for maximizing your specific charitable giving. But here are some general considerations as the end of 2016 approaches:

Timing matters—To receive a 2016 tax benefit, you must make all charitable donations by Dec. 31, 2016. Because checks sent through “snail mail” could take a while to be received, I prefer to make year-end donations by credit card. A credit card contribution is deductible in the year the card is charged online through a secure website of the organization.

Itemization is key—You must

itemize your deductions to claim a charitable deduction. But the extra effort is worth the tax savings. Married joint filers who have taxable income totaling more than $75,300 up to $151,900 are in the 25 percent tax bracket in 2016. Thus, the actual cost of a $100 donation is only $75. As your income tax bracket increases, the real cost of your charitable gift decreases.

Donate appreciated stock directly—You can give more to an organization by donating long-term appreciated securities directly to it instead of selling the securities and donating the cash from the sale. This type of donation can enable you to take a tax deduction and avoid the capital gains tax and the Medicare surtax.

For us experienced lawyers, our contribution to society is personally important. We want to leave a legal legacy worthy of our profession.

My personal donations to charitable organizations, such as the FJE, enable me to achieve many of my professional, financial, and personal goals. I’m proud that my involvement with the ABA for the past 40 years and with the ABA SLD is making a positive impact in our society.

Join me in making a positive impact.

Marvin S. C. Dang

Marvin S. C. Dang is the managing member of Law Offices of Marvin S. C. Dang, LLLC in Honolulu. He’s the current vice chair of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division; he will be its chair in 2018–2019. Dang served on the ABA FJE council. He’s a member of the FJE President’s Club and the Society of Saratoga Legacy Fund.