What Proof Is Needed for an Automobile Donation?

By Jeannie Knudson

  • Overview

    When donating an automobile to a charity or other nonprofit organization, individuals must supply proof of ownership to the charity before donating the automobile. But offering proof of ownership before the donation is just the first step. Individuals are required to show proof that an automobile was donated and how much the vehicle is worth when filing taxes. Having proof of the donation will also help prevent any liability associated with automobile donations.
  • Proof of Ownership

    Before a charity can accept an automobile donation, proof of ownership is required. The automobile title is usually all that is required to show ownership. The title must be clear of all liens. Many nonprofit organizations will accept vehicles that aren't in working condition. If the vehicle title is lost, a replacement title can be issued at a local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • Proof of Donation

    After donating an automobile, the charity involved will issue a form stating the automobile was donated and the estimated worth of the vehicle. If the automobile is valued at less than $500, this form is usually all that's required to show proof of donation for tax purposes.


  • Tax Proof

    If the donated vehicle's value is over $500, the charity receiving the automobile is required to supply an individual with paperwork stating the fair market value of the vehicle and whether the automobile will be used by the charity or sold for profit. If the vehicle is sold by the charity, the charity will supply a form stating how much the vehicle sold for. The gross proceeds from the sale will determine how much an individual can claim on her taxes.
  • High Valued Donations

    To claim automobiles valued at more than $5,000 on taxes, a separate form supplied by the IRS must be filled out for taxes. The IRS also requires a written appraisal of the automobile if the vehicle's value or sale price is more than $5,000. The appraisal must be done by an individual qualified to appraise vehicles as determined by the IRS.
  • Automobile Liability

    Individuals donating an automobile to charity are encouraged to file a form with their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for title transfer. Many charities will help with this paperwork to make the donation process as simple as possible. To prevent future liability issues, individuals should request a paper from the DMV as proof that the automobile was donated.
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