Do you have an old car you want to get rid of? you could try to sell it and take care of taking photos, answering calls and emails, and scheduling test drives and inspections with prospective buyers.
Or, you could donate your car to charity and potentially get a tax deduction.
Reading: Donating your car to charity
Many charities make it easy for you to donate your car. they might even pick it up, in working condition or not, for free. however, if you want to claim a tax deduction for your donation, you must follow their rules.
Here’s what you need to know.
how to donate your car to charity
Many well-known and reputable charities accept car donations, including Habitat for Humanity, Disabled American Veterans, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Local high schools and trade schools may also receive donated vehicles for use in auto shop classes.
The easiest way to donate your car is to call the organization or fill out an online donation form. the charity will arrange to pick up the car or drop it off at a specific location. and you will be given a receipt to use when preparing your tax return.
how to vet car charities
When donating your car to charity, take precautions to avoid being scammed or contributing to a questionable charity. If you donate your vehicle to an organization that is not qualified by the IRS to receive tax-exempt donations, or if you do not obtain the proper documentation, you will not be able to claim a tax deduction.
make sure the organization is qualified to receive tax-deductible donations
Most charities that qualify to receive tax-deductible donations have 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.
if you’re not sure if an organization qualifies, search for the charity on the irs tax-exempt organization search tool, or call the irs at 877-829-5500 and have the name and address of the charity available. the charity.
donate to efficient and transparent charities
Even legitimate charities can be vague about how they use donations, or may use only a small percentage of contributions on charitable programs.
for example, one controversial car donation program is the kars4kids program, which broadcasts commercials on radio and television across the country.
According to charitywatch, an organization that evaluates charities based on efficiency, governance, and transparency, while kars4kids is a legitimate 501(c)(3) charity, it misleads potential donors by failing to inform them that only serves children of a particular faith, and primarily in new york and new jersey.
charitywatch also reported that kars4kids spent more on overhead than on charity programs in 2015, a red flag that suggests the organization was not using donations efficiently. but a kars4kids report on their operations in 2020 shows that the majority of spending (60%) was dedicated to their programs that year.
Before selecting an organization to donate to, you may want to search for the charity on charitywatch or a similar nonprofit database to ensure they share your values.
claim a tax deduction for a car donation
Choosing a qualified charity isn’t the only requirement to get a tax deduction when you donate your car. To make sure you can claim the full deduction, you must:
first, you must itemize the deductions to benefit from the contribution. If you claim the standard deduction, which is what nearly 90% of taxpayers do, then donating your car will not benefit you when filing taxes.
gather the correct documentation
The amount of your payoff and the documentation you need will depend on the value of the vehicle and what the charity will do with it. the organization can use the car in its operations or sell it and keep the proceeds.
Regardless of how the charity uses the vehicle, if you plan to claim the car is worth more than $500, you must obtain written acknowledgment of the donation. that acknowledgment must contain:
- your name and social security number or tax identification number
- the vehicle identification (VIN) number of the car
- the date of the contribution
- confirmation that the charity did not provide any goods or services in exchange for the donation (or an estimate of the value of goods and services provided)
If the charity sells your vehicle, then your deduction is limited to the proceeds received from the sale, which may be less than you think the car is worth.
For example, suppose you donate a car with an estimated value of $3,000 to a charity, but the charity sells the car for $2,000. in that case, your deduction is capped at $2,000.
once the car is sold, the charity must send you a 1098-c (or similar form) within 30 days. the form must contain:
- a statement certifying that the charity sold the car in an “arm’s length transaction between unrelated parties.” in other words, the charity did not sell it to an employee or other related party at a discount
- the date the vehicle was sold
- the gross proceeds received from the sale
However, if the charity intends to use the car in its operations, it can deduct the fair market value of the car on the date you donated it. in that case, the charity’s written acknowledgment must confirm that the organization plans to use the vehicle and describe its intended use.
You will need to attach Form 1098-c or any other written acknowledgment, and Form 8283 to your tax return when you file.
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