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How To

Donate My Car

Are you considering making a Car Donation?
Donating a car can be a rewarding experience, if it's done right.
Here are the quick facts you should know.

car donation charity directory

Donating a car can be as easy as 1-2-3! (1) Pick a charitable organization you’d like to benefit from your donation, (2) Fill out some quick and easy documentation to complete the pickup, and (3) Enjoy a great car donation tax deduction.

Regardless of the condition of your car, it is likely that a charitable organization can benefit from it. Even vehicles that won't run have some value, and can provide funding that helps your favorite charitable organization carry out its daily mission. Car donations are a very effective way to make a huge difference for a charity of your choice. But, because a car donation will likely be the largest donation most people will ever make, it pays to do your homework. Our site is dedicated to answering the common questions concerning making an auto donation, and getting you the important information you need about this great way to help your favorite charity.


Why should I donate my car? Wouldn’t I be better off just selling it outright?

Of course, deciding to sell your car on your own is always an option. You could even take the proceeds and donate them directly to your favorite charity. But you have to bear in mind that, depending on the condition and value of your car, there may be a lot of hassle involved with organizing an outright sale.

IRS Publication 4303

Click Here to read IRS Publication 4303, which gives valuable information to prospective donors.

If there are problems with your vehicle that make it currently unusable, you will have to shell out whatever amount of cash a repair shop decides to charge, in order to make the vehicle drivable and safe. Even if your old vehicle is in usable condition, you will still have to pay for costs associated with the sale, such as advertising, notary costs, etc. And who can guarantee that you’ll even get a fair market value for your vehicle when it’s sold?

On the other hand, when you make a used car donation, after some minor paperwork and arrangements are done, all of these things become the total responsibility of the receiving organization. The headache is on their shoulders – all you have to do then is wait on a great tax deduction in the amount of the sale of your vehicle. It’s also worth noting that some of these organizations may actually go beyond just getting your vehicle in a sellable condition… they will actually refurbish the vehicle by doing body repairs, painting, etc., to increase its resale value – possibly raising the amount you can show for a deduction far beyond what you would have gotten from an outright sale.

Should I try to donate my car even if it won’t run?

Certainly! Even if your car won’t run, it still has some value. It will be up to the charitable organization you choose to decide whether to restore the vehicle to running condition, to sell it as is, or sell it for parts. At any rate, however the organization decides to monetize your vehicle donation, they will have gained from the donation, and you’ll get a hassle-free tax deduction.

 


If I donate my car, how long will it take for my vehicle to be picked up?

This is generally a very fast process, with the vehicle likely being picked up within 48 hours of paperwork completion. Of course, pickup times may vary, and may be longer around holidays or weekends. The organization you decide to contribute to should be able to provide more specifics about pickup times.


How can I be sure that car donations are taken from my state?

You may be thinking, ‘I want to donate my car, but I’m not certain an organization in my state participates.’ Not to worry… car donations are a widely accepted method of giving to various charities, and it’s likely that there is quite a number of organizations in your area that would be grateful for your donation.

In fact, many charitable organizations have a nationwide network of towing companies that they can call upon to pick up your vehicle. And yes, even if you live in Hawaii, car donations are accepted by certain organizations. However, even though they may have a nationwide towing network, some organizations may not have the capability to pick your vehicle up in certain areas. Check with your favorite charitable organization to be sure.


How much of the value of my vehicle will actually go toward my favorite charity?

This will vary from organization to organization, but will likely be upwards of 50 percent of the vehicle’s actual sale value, and possibly close to 100 percent. Bear in mind that many vehicles donated will only be worth a few hundred dollars or more at resale. Before that time, the organization has to pay for expensive towing costs to pick up the vehicle, then there may be repairs to be made, and other costs associated with making the vehicle ready for resale, and costs associated with actually completing the resale.

The receiving organization has to bear all of these costs, with no other contribution from you. These costs alone can run into several hundred dollars or more, not to mention the organization’s normal daily operating costs. For this reason, a portion of your vehicle’s resale proceeds are retained to keep the intermediary organization running.


May I also donate my boat or RV?

Many charitable organizations accept donations in the form of several different types of vehicles: boats, recreational vehicles, jet skis, trailers, buses and even snowmobiles are accepted by various organizations. While in the process of getting rid of your old car, why not clean up the garage by getting rid of that unused jet ski at the same time? Check with your favorite charitable organizations for more information on the specific types of vehicles they will accept.


How much of a tax deduction can I expect to receive?

The IRS allows you to claim either of the following:

  1. The value of your vehicle, up to $500. You are responsible for determining the value of your vehicle, or

  2. The amount your vehicle is sold for by the charitable organization.


Your accountant should be able to help guide you toward getting the best tax deduction for your car donation.


Who is responsible for liability and other issues once my car is donated?

Your charitable organization should assume all liability for the vehicle once they pick it up. In most states, you’ll want to make sure you’ve removed the license plate and signed the title before the organization picks up your vehicle. This policy varies from location to location, and organization to organization, so be certain to check with your attorney, your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent, and the charitable organization for more information.

 

Looking for a nationwide list of agencies accepting car donations?

Visit our Charity Directory page!

There you'll find organizations from coast to coast, including listings by state, to help you narrow the list of candidates to whom you'd like to donate.


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