About Car Donations in Maryland

By W D Adkins

  • Overview

    When you have an old car you want to get rid of, you can put up fliers, pay for newspaper ads, negotiate with buyers and then spend more time filing paperwork with the DMV. Or you can save yourself the time and effort by donating a car in Maryland to a worthy charity and getting a nice tax deduction if you itemize your taxes. Donating a car is easy as long as you know the steps to follow to transfer ownership to a qualified charity and get that tax write-off.
  • Identification

    A car donation in Maryland requires legal documentation since the ownership of the vehicle has to be transferred. You must have clear title to the vehicle. If you don't have the title, contact the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles to get a copy. You also need the odometer reading and a list of any significant damage and mechanical problems. You'll be asked for the vehicle identification number (VIN), which will be on the title, proof of insurance or car registration.
  • Organizations

    Accepting cars and other vehicles as donations is a popular method charities use for fundraising. For example, DonateCar.TV (donatecar.tv) assists children in need with food, shelter and educational support. Many other charities use a car donation service such as Donate for Charity (donateforcharity.com) to accept and sell donated vehicles on their behalf. One Maryland organization is the Y of Central Maryland. In addition to the familiar recreational services of the YMCA, it operates 11 Head Start programs and more than 40 after-school programs. National organizations at Donate for Charity include BlazeSports, which operates sports programs for youth with disabilities, and the Glaucoma Research Fund, which works to find a cure for glaucoma, the No. 1 cause of blindness in the United States.


  • Deductions

    In order for a donor to get a charitable tax write-off, the charity must be qualified to accept donations under IRS rules. If you have any doubts, you can check using IRS Publication 78 (see link below). This is a listing of all charities qualified to accept donations. You can search or download a copy online. The IRS also maintains a consumer information line (1-800-829-1040) if you have any questions about donating a car
  • Procedure

    Organizations that accept car donations can take the necessary information by phone, but most provide online donation forms on their websites. Donors simply enter the information (VIN, odometer reading, year, make, model and vehicle condition). It usually takes less than a week for a donation to be processed and for a donor to be contacted to arrange free pickup.
  • Features

    When you donate a car, be sure you have removed all personal items from the vehicle. The transfer of ownership section on the title must be filled out and signed. It's best to do this ahead of time and have the signature notarized. Make a photocopy of the completed title to keep. You'll be given a receipt for your records.
  • Considerations

    The tax deduction for a donated car is the total proceeds the charity gets from the sale of the car. Under IRS rules, you may use fair market value only if the car sells for less than $500, in which case you can claim fair market value up to $499. The charity is required to send documentation of the sale price within 30 days of the sale.
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