Combine Your Pro Bono
With the Benefits of Tax Credits
By Russell P. Butler
Attorneys desiring to utilize charitable contributions to complete
their pro bono responsibilities now have a way to maximize their
contributions. Pro bono obligations can be satisfied by contributing to
organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means. If
you select a legal services program that has been designated by the State
to provide tax credits through the Community Investment Tax Credit Program
(CITI), attorneys can donate more at a lesser cost and receive the
benefits of tax credits. CITI encourages Maryland businesses to support
non-profits. Donating through CITI allows attorneys to target the impact
of their charitable contributions on participating programs to maximize
the benefit of a pro bono financial donation.
Under the ethical rules for attorneys, a lawyer has a professional
responsibility to render pro bono publico legal service, which may be
satisfied by a financial contribution to organizations that provide legal
services to persons of limited means (rules are found at
www.courts.state.md.us/probono/probonorules.html). Eligible Maryland
legal service organizations to which you can financially contribute to
help satisfy your pro bono obligations can be found at
While attorneys are not required to complete pro bono hours in Maryland,
reporting pro bono is mandatory. The Maryland Rules require all Maryland
licensed attorneys to file annual Pro Bono Legal Service Reports
indicating the number of hours of pro bono service they rendered or
contributions they made to legal services organizations in the previous
How CITI Tax Credits
Non-profits organizations apply for tax credit allocations through the
State of Maryland. Once approved, business entities that donate directly
to non-profits for approved projects receive tax credits equal to 50
percent of the value of the donation. These tax credits are in addition to
the normal federal and state deductions for full amount of the charitable
deductions. Contributions under CITI must be of at least $500 in face
value. Requesting the tax credit is simple. Businesses, including sole
proprietors and partnerships, need only complete a one-page form to the
The State of Maryland has designated over 100 eligible projects. Listed
online at www.mdhousing.org/citi,
those wishing to contribute under CITI can determine eligible non-profits.
For more information regarding participating in the CITI program, you can
www.dhcd.state.md.us/npp/index.asp or call Crystal Davenport at the
Department of Housing and Community Development at (410) 514-7236 or (800)
756-1009. To determine the net economic cost of your charitable
contribution, you need to consult your tax attorney or your CPA.
Maryland Crime Victims’
Resource Center, Inc.
A legal service provider participating in the CITI program, the
Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. (MCVRC), assists victims in
the aftermath of crime. Originally formed as the Stephanie Roper
Foundation and Committee, MCVRC strives to implement its mission of
providing crime victims with comprehensive victims’ rights and services.
With funding from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, MCVRC’s Crime
Victim Legal Advocacy Program provides needed information and legal
services to crime victims. MCVRC is one of a few select, approved
non-profit organizations to also offer CITI tax credit contributions.
Have You Completed Your
2004 Pro Bono Obligations?
The end of 2004 is at hand, and you will soon receive the paperwork
regarding completion of your 2004 pro bono obligations from the
Administrative Office of the Court. If you have not yet completed your pro
bono obligations or you want to do more, there is still time. Before the
end of the year, you may not only further your pro bono obligations
through a charitable deduction but also at the same time receive a CITI
tax credit for your contribution.
Tax Credits Allow You to
Contribute More at a
Lesser Economic Cost
Without considering the tax advantages of your federal and Maryland tax
deductions for charitable deductions, CITI’s tax credits program reduces
the cost of your contribution by half. However, considering the available
federal and Maryland tax deductions, your contribution costs you even
less. Thus, you can determine both the gross and net amount of your
charitable deduction to calculate the total impact of your contribution,
both to you and the non-profit.
Maximize the Benefits of
Your Charitable Contribution
Many people contribute to charitable causes for altruistic reasons.
Some attorneys may donate as part of their professional responsibility
requirements. Others may contribute because of the tax benefits they
receive. Regardless of the reasons for making a charitable contribution,
you should consider all of the potential benefits to maximize the impact
of your charitable contribution. CITI tax credits provide important
economic benefits for you to consider when determining your charitable
Russell P. Butler is Executive Director of the Maryland Crime Victims’
Resource Center, Inc. in its Upper Marlboro office. He is also the current
Chair of the MSBA Criminal Law and Practice Section Council.