Car Donation Information

Donate your car, truck, motorcycle, boat or RV to a Charity!  Your car donation made to a legitimate charitable organization can be fully tax deductible if you itemize your tax return, and it helps charity to support the needy in your community and around the globe. It can make a real difference to those in need of food, housing, education and medical attention.

Before donating your car to the charity, you should do some homework to determine if the organization you are donating to is legitimate. There are plenty of organizations out there that will accept your car donation but very little, if any, of the money gets to the intended recipient.  The National Association of State Charity Officials have a web site to help you determine if your charity is legitimate and complying with state laws before you donate your car. The IRS also has a website you can use to obtain information about a charity. If you prefer, you can call the IRS Tax Exempt/Government Entities Customer Service at 1-877-829-5500 and ask if the charity is qualified. Be sure to have the organization’s correct name and its headquarters location, if possible.

Car donors should never have to pay any towing or other costs associated with their donation. The charities and/or their agents should always cover any such costs.

Most organizations will come to your home and pick up the car at no cost to you. All you need is title to the vehicle and the keys. They should provide you with all necessary paperwork to claim the tax deduction. If you plan to claim more than $250 for your car donation you will need a Written Acknowledgement of Donation from the charitable organization. If the value of your car is greater than $5000 then you will need to get an appraisal from a certified vehicle appraiser.

Used Car Appraisal

Be aware that some charities may claim that you can deduct the full value of your car as found in car guides such as the “blue book” value.  A used car guide may be a good starting point to value a car, but you are encouraged to exercise caution.  The IRS will only allow a deduction for the fair market value of your car which may be substantially less than the “blue book” value.

To help you determine the fair market value of your car, we have listed some websites that you may find useful.

When you donate your car you should remove the license plates, unless state law requires otherwise, and transfer title to the charity. This will help you avoid liability problems after the car donation process is completed.

Some donors have asked about a smog check. The good news is that you can donate your car without having it pass smog first. It would be the responsibility of the charity, and/or the party to whom the charity will sell the donated car, to have a smog check done. The car donation process is set up to be as fast, easy, and user-friendly for the donor as possible — and this includes matters such as a smog check. A good charity will take on all of these sorts of responsibilities.

Smog Check

Many people want to make sure that their car donation is being solicited or accepted by representative of the charity itself, not a private fundraiser acting on the charity behalf. It’s important to know what will happen to the vehicle when you pass it on to one of the car donation centers, whether it will be fixed up and given to the poor and needy or be resold. And if it is resold, what share of the proceeds goes to the charity? A donor can ensure the donation furthers the intended charitable purpose by obtaining acceptable responses to these questions. Donating cars to charity is a rewarding way to give, and legitimate charities will have answers to your questions.

Finally, the IRS publishes A Donor’s Guide to Car Donations which is very helpful and full of information you need to know before you donate your car. Do yourself a favor and read it thoroughly.


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