How to Donate a Car

By Brian Adler

  • Overview

    Donating a car can be an excellent way to help your favorite charity. Charitable organizations sell donated vehicles or use them for their own purposes. You can generally claim a tax deduction for your car donation. Many services will take your vehicle, but all do not provide the same humanitarian benefits.
    How to Donate a Car
    • Step 1

      Select an appropriate charity. Make sure it is a legitimate IRS-registered charity. Many private organizations offer to connect car donors with popular charities. They pick up your car, sell it and give the money to a charity of your choice. Typically, these groups take anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of a vehicle's value for themselves. You receive a small tax deduction, while the charity receives a tiny donation. It is much better to give your car directly to the charity. This ensures that the charity receives the maximum profit from your gift.
    • Step 2

      Deliver the car yourself. Charities lose money if they have to pay people to pick up your vehicle. Provide the charity with the legal title to your car. If you have lost the title, obtain it from your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. It is very important that you transfer title. You do not want to be liable for any future costs or damages.

    • Step 3

      Obtain a receipt for your donation. You will need the receipt to claim a deduction on your taxes. If your car was worth no more than $500, the receipt is all you need. If not, you must fill out IRS Form 8283. If the charity sells your vehicle, it will provide you with a receipt for the actual amount of the sale. You will need this additional receipt to claim your deduction.
    • Step 4

      Use the Kelley Blue Book, or similar tool, to compute your car's current market value if it is worth $5,000 or less. Allow for any wear and tear. You can also use the Kelley Blue Book if the car is sold for parts or salvage. If the charity is going to use your car in its own charitable work, you can claim the fair market value for your vehicle. Again, obtain a receipt from the charity.
    • Step 5

      Obtain an independent appraisal if the car is worth more than $5,000.
    • Skill: Easy
    • Tip: Check with your state bureau of motor vehicles if you have any questions about transfer of title.
    • Warning:
    • Beware of scams. Many car donation services pay only a flat fee of as little as $100 to the charity of your choice.

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