Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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Rather than selling your car for profit, why not consider supporting your favourite charity and donate it to a great cause? Here are a few things to consider to ensure your donation has a positive impact. 1 Research the organisation Before you decide to donate the car, make sure that you have your facts right. If you do not want the car donation to go to a waste, ensure that the organisation to which you are donating the car to has credibility. So, get yourself prepared for some first hand information collection about the charitable organisations that you can consider for a car donation. Remember that your car donation is not only just giving up the car. It is something more. The implications of donating the car can have far fetched results. It is therefore an important decision and should be taken carefully. And there is reason enough to get scared because one might not know to which purpose the car is put to use. Car donation scams are not new and there have been instances when the car owner does not take heed of what happens to the donated car after the process is over. Since prevention is better than cure, it is important that the car donation be made to a proper and licensed charitable organisation. How are you going to find out about car donation organisations? There are quite a number of ways to find out about car donation organisations that are not up to the mark. Check for the following to make your car donation meaningful. Find out whether the charitable organisation is legitimate or not - it is important to find out about the legitimacy of the organisation. Only the ones that have credibility will be able to make right use of the car that you donate. It is better to donate the ones that are registered charities. Find out about the organisation's work - just carry out some quick market research and weigh their work. If the organisation has some goodwill in the market, then that would be easy to locate. If possible, try and talk to the many car donors to make sure that such donations actually work out and the organisation has been able to handle such car donations without any glitch. Do not just believe what the organizations are saying. All sweet talks often do not work out. 2 Find a scheme that suits you There are a number of organisations that will handle the process of donating your car to charity for you, including: Giveacar is a not-for-profit social enterprise that can turn your old car into cash for any UK charity. They arrange free collection, then either sell your car at auction or scrap it with the proceeds raised going to your charity. Charity Car is a scheme from the UK's largest car recycling network - CarTakeBack.com - that allows you to turn your old car into the maximum donation for the charity of your choice. Car donation network is a not-for-profit service, that collects scrap cars in any condition for FREE from anywhere in the UK, sells them and make sure that 100% of the profits are donated to charity. 3 Follow-up properly After the car donation, make sure that you follow up with the organisation to find out what has been done with the donated car. Since you are giving your car up for a purpose, make sure that it is put to good use. A car donation can happen in just three steps when you are working with the correct organisation. The car owner just has to provide the details and the rest is taken care of by the charitable organisation themselves. Once the details are all shared, the organisation will send the tow truck to collect the vehicle on the designated day and time. Whether the car works or not, may not be an issue as many organisations will accept the car in any condition. A receipt is provided as an acknowledgment of the donation and when the car is auctioned off, they will also provide with the receipt of the final sale value of the vehicle. Further information Leah Bunny contributed to this how-to guide - a freelance writer with years of experience in working closely with organizations that have raised their voices for many social concerns. His recent blog mentions how to be on guard from car donation scams so that when you donate your car New York, then you know that the donation will be worthwhile.


Car Donation Tax Deduction – How To Get The Maximum Tax Benefit Out Of Your Vehicle Donation

Donating your car or vehicle to charity can be a great way to get a federal tax deduction (state income tax deductibility depends on state law), and Wheels For Wishes makes it easy. If you would like to help your local Make-A-Wish® and get the maximum tax deduction, then you’re already almost done. It’s as simple as filling out the little form to the right or calling 1-877-431-9474. We make the process easy, and you get the most good (and highest tax deduction) for your car. Not only that, but you are also helping a local child’s wish come true.

how car donation tax deduction works

Prior to January 2005, the IRS was allowing people who donated to a qualified car donation program to take a tax deduction based on their vehicle’s market value no matter how much or how little the vehicle sold for. Determining the market value of a donated vehicle is often quite difficult and time-consuming, which made determination of the amount of the tax deduction confusing. Fortunately, as a result of the new tax law that went into effect in January 2005, the IRS has taken the guesswork out of determining the value of your donated car, truck, RV, boat or other vehicle.

The IRS allows the taxpayer to claim a charitable tax deduction as follows:

  • We make it easy to get the maximum tax deduction for your vehicle donation! Simply filling out the quick form to the right (or call 1-877-431-9474) and we take care of the rest. Your vehicle is picked up, sold, and proceeds benefit your local Make-A-Wish®, but you also get a 100% deductible receipt.
  • If the donated vehicle is sold for less than $500, you can claim the fair market value of your vehicle up to $500 or the amount it is sold for if less than fair market value.
  • If the donated vehicle sells for more than $500, you can claim the exact amount for which the vehicle is sold.
For any vehicle sold for more than $500, the exact amount it is sold for will be stated on your notification mailed to you, which in turn will be your charitable tax deduction. For additional information, the IRS provides A Donor’s Guide to Car Donations (Publication 4303 linked below), which details the determination of the value of your donated vehicle. As always, we help people donate their cars every day, and we would be happy to help you do the same. Feel free to call us at 1-877-431-9474 with any questions you might have and one of our representatives will help you.

Frequently Asked Car Donation Tax Questions

Q:Will my vehicle donation be good for the year that I sent in the donation form, even if I don’t receive the receipt until the beginning of the New Year?

A: YES! IRS Publication 4303, “A Donor’s Guide To Vehicle Donations” states: “… the written acknowledgment must contain the date of the contribution…” The date of contribution is the date that we received the donation form. So it can even be on the 31st of December and will still allow a charitable vehicle deduction for that tax year.

Q:Does the donation count toward the year I submitted the online form even if the vehicle isn’t picked up until the new year?

A: YES! As stated above.

Q: Some charities offer vacation packages as incentives to donate. Does that affect my tax deduction?

A: YES! If a charity provides a commodity, like a vacation package, for example, in exchange for a car or vehicle donation, then the tax receipt from that charity must state the fair market value of that commodity and the fair market value of that commodity must be subtracted from the value of the car donation.
For example: If your vehicle sells for $1,000.00 at auction and your vacation package that you receive has a fair market value of $400.00, you can only deduct $600.00. That’s $1,000.00 for the donated car less $400.00 for the vacation package resulting in a maximum deduction of $600.00 ($1000.00 – $400.00 = $600.00)
We certainly do not want donors to be shocked by receiving a tax letter that states they have to subtract the fair market value of the vacation from the value of their vehicle.

Latest IRS Publications Concerning Vehicle Donations And Deductions

  • IRS Pub. 526 – Charitable Contributions – An excerpt regarding non-cash charitable contributions
  • IRS Pub. 561 – Determining the Value of Donated Property – An excerpt regarding fair market value
  • IRS Pub. 4303 – A Donor’s Guide to Car Donation – An excerpt regarding new tax law information

We’re Ready To Help, and It Couldn’t Be Easier

We work hard to get you the maximum tax return for your vehicle donation. Feel free to call us at 1-877-431-9474 with any questions you might have and one of our representatives will help you.


It's easy to donate a car to charity if all you want to do is get rid of it. Simply call a charity that accepts old vehicles and it will tow your heap away. But if you want to maximize your tax benefits, it's more complicated. Here's a walk-through of some of the considerations, with the usual proviso that you should discuss these issues with your tax preparer before you act.

You Must Itemize Your Return
If you want to claim a car donation to reduce your federal income taxes, you must itemize deductions. You could itemize even if the donated auto is your only deduction, but that's usually not the best choice.

Here's the math: Suppose you're in the 28 percent tax bracket and the allowable deduction for the vehicle's donation is $1,000. That will save you $280 in taxes. If you're in the 15 percent tax bracket and you get that same $1,000 deduction, it will reduce your taxes by $150.

If the car donation is your only deduction, it's likely that taking a standard deduction would save you thousands more dollars in taxes. The only way that donating a car nets you any tax benefit is if you have many deductions and if their total, including the car, exceeds the standard deduction. And remember, you can always donate as much as you want to charities, but the IRS limits how much you can claim on your tax return.

The 2017 Tax Bill and Car Donations
Taxpayers who are considering donating a car to charity might be wondering how the tax bill passed into law in December 2017 could affect their decision. To begin with, the bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, lowered tax rates but also altered the previous income brackets. Beginning in 2018 you may find yourself in a new bracket, which might result in either lower or higher taxes, depending on your individual situation. And that means the tax benefit from a donation might be more or less advantageous.

Another important change is that the new law raises the standard deductions from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and married couples filing separately; from $9,350 to $18,000 for the head of a household; and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. This change likely means that fewer people will find it beneficial to itemize deductions.

"The vast majority of taxpayers are going to take the standard deduction," says David L. Thompson, vice president of public policy for the National Council of Nonprofits. "That means most taxpayers have no incentive to give to charity. That's a serious concern. We fully expect the doubling of the standard deduction to reduce giving by $13 [billion] to $20 billion a year."

With these and other changes resulting from the revised tax laws, it's more important than ever for consumers to consult with their financial adviser or tax preparer before making a decision about donating a car to charity.

The Charity Must Qualify
Only donations to qualified charities can provide a tax deduction for you. A qualified charity is one that the IRS recognizes as a 501(c)(3) organization. Religious organizations are a special case. They do count as qualified organizations, but they aren't required to file for 501(c)(3) status.

To help you determine whether a charity is qualified, the easiest thing to do is to use the IRS exempt organizations site, or call the IRS toll-free number: 877-829-5500.

A Key Concept: Fair Market Value
The IRS defines fair market value as "the price a willing buyer would pay and a willing seller would accept for the vehicle, when neither party is compelled to buy or sell and both parties have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts." In this scenario, neither the buyer nor the seller can be an auto dealer. Both must be private parties.

What complicates the matter for taxpayers is that under current IRS rules, you can only deduct a vehicle's fair market value under four very specific conditions:

1. When a charity auctions your car for $500 or less, you can claim either the fair market value or $500, whichever is less.
2. When the charity intends to make "significant intervening use of the vehicle." This means the charity will use the car in its work.
3. When the charity intends to make a "material improvement" to the vehicle, not just routine maintenance.
4. When the charity gives or sells the vehicle to a needy individual at a price significantly below fair market value.

Determining Fair Market Value
Edmunds can help you determine your vehicle's fair market value with its Appraise Your Car calculator. Enter the car's year, make and model, as well as such information as trim level, mileage and condition. By looking at the private-party value, you'll get an accurate idea of what your vehicle is worth.

Note the caution from IRS Publication 4303: "If you use a vehicle pricing guide to determine fair market value, be sure that the sales price listed is for a vehicle that is the same make, model and year, sold in the same condition, and with the same or substantially similar options or accessories as your vehicle."

Getting Fair Market Value Is Rare
It's not realistic to expect that your car will meet one of the stringent fair market value requirements. Only about 5 percent of donated vehicles are suitable for use by charity recipients. About a third of donated cars are junked, and the rest are auctioned off.

So unless your car is in good or excellent condition, it will most likely be sold at auction or to an auto salvage yard. In that case, your deduction is based on the car's selling price, not your estimate of its fair market value. And note that this price is not necessarily something you'll know when you donate the vehicle, or even before the next tax-filing time, since an organization has up to three years to sell your car.

Paperwork Is Important
Getting tax benefits for a donated car requires a lot of documentation, whether the car is junked, sold at auction or given to a charity's client. IRS Publication 4303 has all the details. Be sure to keep all the papers or electronic files. You'll need them at tax time.

If there's a delay in getting paperwork from the charity, your first option, according to IRS Publication 526,  is to file Form 4868. That's a request for an automatic six-month extension of time to submit your return. Your second option is to file the return on time without claiming the deduction for the qualified vehicle. When the charity finally sends your notification, you can file an amended return using form 1040X to claim the deduction. You'll have to attach a copy of the notification to your 1040X.

Another Approach To Car 'Donation'
Besides giving your car directly to a charity, there is another way your vehicle can help a charity and also maximize your tax benefits: You can sell the car yourself and donate the proceeds. By doing so, you might be able to generate more cash than if you let the charity sell it.

Parting with your old vehicle could help a nonprofit carry out its mission and also might make room in your garage for a new car. But how you proceed depends on your goal. If you're focused on getting rid of a junker with minimal effort and you'd look at the tax deduction as a nice bonus, then donating your car makes good sense. But if your goal is to maximize your tax deduction, carefully review these steps, consult with your tax adviser and then make an informed decision.


Thinking of donating your clunker to charity for a nice tax deduction? Proceed with caution.

The gifting of used cars to "charities" has become a favorite way for Americans to dispose of unwanted vehicles. And why not? You can avoid the headache of selling or junking the car, help a charitable cause and lower your tax burden all at the same time.

Unfortunately, the experience is rarely, in reality, such a win-win situation. Not only do charities typically see little of the proceeds from a used car sale, but donors can run afoul of the taxman if they're not careful.
Cars on display at a used car lot.
Kreicher | Getty Images
"At the end of the day, donating a used car could be the least cost-effective way to give to a charity," said Stephanie Kalivas, an analyst with CharityWatch, an organization that monitors the charitable giving industry.

The problem is the industry is riddled with fraud and misrepresentation. Attorneys General from multiple states have investigated car donation charities for false advertising and self-dealing. Many of the organizations are for-profit intermediaries that give token contributions to a participating charity. Others misrepresent the cause they support and/or give low percentages of their funds raised to their stated targets.

Kars4Kids, for example, a New Jersey-based organization with an insipid yet highly successful advertising jingle, has received more than 450,000 car donations, according to its website. The organization, however, got a D rating from CharityWatch because it distributes less than 50 percent of the money it takes in and because, despite a national advertising campaign, it fails to adequately disclose that the money goes to benefit Jewish children only, and almost exclusively in the New York/New Jersey area.

"They're not transparent about what they do," Kalivas said. "A lot of these organizations mislead the public, and people need to be careful."

More from Smart Investing:

Wendy Kirwan, director of public relations for Kars4Kids, said the costs of marketing and operating the car-donation program are high but that because the organization processes donations in-house, more money goes to its charitable work than others who use third parties. She also said that while the catchy advertising jingle doesn't spell out which kids benefit from the charity, the information is readily available on their website kars4kids.org. "This is an innovative way to support charity in a way that helps the charity and the donors," said Kirwan. "A lot of people wouldn't otherwise be donating to charity if it wasn't with their car."

For people solely looking to dispose of an unwanted car for which they won't take a tax deduction, it may not seem to matter what happens to the vehicle and who benefits. Kalivas, however, suggests that charities would be much better off if people sold their cars themselves and donated the proceeds, or simply called up charities they know to find out if they have car donation programs.

If the car in question is valuable and you plan to take a deduction for it, protect yourself. Individuals donating cars can inadvertently mark themselves with big red flag for Internal Revenue Service auditors.

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When donating a car, here are eight key things you should consider to maximize the benefits to charity and minimize the risk to yourself.
1. Research the charity you plan to give it to. If it doesn't have 501(c)(3) non-profit status with the IRS, it is not a charity and your donation is not tax-deductible.
2. Pick efficient charities to give to. There are multiple organizations such as CharityWatch that evaluate charities and rate them for efficiency in supporting their causes.
3. Itemize. To take a tax deduction for a car donation, you have to itemize deductions on your return. There are detailed rules about the amount you can claim. Taxpayers can deduct the full market value of a donated car under three circumstances: The charity uses the car in its operations; it materially improves the vehicle to sell or use it; or the charity donates or sells it to a needy person for below market value. Otherwise, you can only deduct what the charity receives as proceeds from selling the car.
4. Get a receipt. Make sure to get a receipt from the charity for the vehicle and eventually a document certifying how much the vehicle was sold for. Charities are required to provide that document within 30 days of selling the car.
"At the end of the day, donating a used car could be the least cost-effective way to give to a charity." -Stephanie Kalivas, analyst at CharityWatch
5. Don't forget IRS form 8283. If the sale price or fair market value of the car is greater than $500, you have to complete section A of IRS form 8283 and file it with your tax return. Consult the Kelley Blue Book, the Hearst Black Book or National Auto Dealers Association for market values. If the car is worth more than $5,000, you need to get an independent appraisal of it and also complete Section B of Form 8283.

6. Drop it off. If the car is road-worthy, drive it yourself to the charity you're donating to. It saves money and ensures you're not giving the car to some unrelated, for-profit intermediary. Make sure to sign over the title of the car to the organization and that a representative signs it, as well. If someone is picking the car up, have them sign the title and take a photocopy of it. People have been on the hook for liabilities on donated cars that were not properly signed over to a new owner.

7. Snap it. Take pictures of the car and keep receipts for work and repairs done on it — particularly if you're claiming a deduction for it.

8. Read up. Read IRS publication 4303 — A Donor's Guide to Car Donations.
By Andrew Osterland, special to CNBC.com
Note: This story has been updated with a response from Kars4Kids.

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