Don’t get taken for a ride
Donating your car is rarely as simple as making a phone call, having it towed, and taking a tax write-off. Below are a few FAQ’s to answer your questions about donating vehicles, boats, and cars. Learn how to determine your tax deduction from an auto donation here.
I have a car I want to donate. How do I get started?
Determine what charity or kind of charity you want to donate to. The amount of your tax deduction is determined by how the vehicle is used. Information about how your vehicle may be used should be provided by the charity upon request. So this may be a factor in your decision.
What happens to my car after I donate it?
A charity will most likely sell the vehicle and use the proceeds for programs; however, some will fix the car and donate it to a family in need or use it for auto repair training. What kind of condition does my car have to be in? Most organizations will accept only vehicles that run and are in safe driving condition. Others will accept just about anything. You should always call a charity to determine their auto donation requirements.
Will the organization pick up my car or do I have to deliver it to them?
Many organizations pick up vehicles within a certain area, even if it needs to be towed (sometimes for a fee). Others will ask you to bring it to their drop-off site.
Is my contribution going directly to the charity or through an intermediary?
Some organizations accept and process vehicles on their own. Others use a third party (car broker, auto auction, or dealer) to handle donations. Usually, the intermediary keeps a portion of the proceeds (in exchange for processing the vehicle) and passes the rest on to the charity. Be sure to get a clear idea of how much of the proceeds will actually go to the charity. And when transferring title, make sure it is transferred to the charity, not the intermediary.
Can I donate my car over the Internet?
In certain cases, absolutely! Some charities promote car donations through their own web sites. Other car-donation web sites are operated by regional or national intermediaries. These sites usually allow you to choose, from a list of charities, where you want your donation to go. This could be a great way to direct your contribution to a national charity of interest to you. Be extra vigilant that the web-based intermediary passes a substantial portion of your contribution to a specific charity. When in doubt, ask questions of the intermediary, and the recipient charity.
Can I deduct the donation of a vehicle from my income tax?
Generally, in order for your donation to be tax deductible, the proceeds of the donation must go to a charity—a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Contributions to other types of tax-exempt organizations, such as 501(c)(4), are generally not deductible.