How to Donate a Non-Working Car

By Brian Adler

  • Overview

    Donating a car is an excellent way to help your favorite charity. Charitable organizations sell cars in exchange for much needed funds. In fact, even a non-working car has value to a charitable group. The vehicle can be sold for parts or scrap, or it can be restored. Whatever the situation, you can donate your car to a legitimate charity and receive a tax-deduction at tax time.
    Donate Your Non-Working Car
    • Step 1

      Donate your non-working car to an eligible tax-exempt organization. The IRS maintains a list of charities and non-profits. Among these organizations is the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army provides advice, training, and low cost goods to men and women in need. The Salvation Army also regularly accepts car donations at a range of nationwide drop off sites. Goodwill uses your non-working vehicles to fund job training programs and to help the disabled or otherwise disadvantaged. About 84 percent of the revenue received by the Goodwill goes directly into job training and career placement programs. Donate your car to your local Goodwill office. The United Way assists children and adults through educational and vocation programs that aim to improve standards of living and health and well-being. Contact your local branch of the United Way to donate your non-working car.
    • Step 2

      Obtain a receipt for your non-working car donation. The IRS requires receipts for tax deductions. For vehicles worth no more than $500, you may claim your own estimate of the non-working car's current value. For cars worth more than $500, the charity must provide you with an actual sales receipt. This amount would be derived from the vehicle's value either as scrap metal or as individual parts. Ask the charity if it intends to repair the vehicle. If the charity fixes or restores your vehicle and uses it as transportation, you may claim its current fair market value. Use the Kelley Blue Book, or a similar resource, to determine your car's worth.

    • Step 3

      Transfer title to your non-working car. Transfer of title usually relieves you of any future legal obligations. Some states require an additional form, such as a notice of sale. Look at your car's title form. Many states feature seller and purchaser sections. Many also treat your charitable donation as a form of sale. Generally, you will need to provide the charity's name along with your car's current odometer reading, and the date of sale. You and a representative of the charity will usually have to print and sign your names. Not all states require a title on all vehicles. Often off road vehicles and ATV's are exempt. Most states also have procedures for replacing lost titles. Sometimes there is an alternate form. You may also need to give special notice that the car is being sold for parts or scrap. Remember to remove your car's license plates and return them to the appropriate authorities.
    • Skill: Easy
    • Tip: For local procedures and regulations, consult your state department of motor vehicles. They can also provide copies of forms.
    • Warning:
    • Deal directly with the charity of your choice. Many groups offer to take your non-working car and turn it over to your favorite charity. These organizations typically retain a large portion of the vehicle's value.

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