How to Find a Reputable Car Donation Charity for Your Donation
Donating your car to charity is a thoughtful and generous act. It’s also one that saves you money on taxes. The Internet is full of “charities” who will take your car. All you have to do is Google “how to donate a car” and 6-7 paid ads pop up, and a list of charities that ‘sound’ familiar.
Tips for Finding Reputable Car Donation Charities
Take a Minute and ignore the ads offering you a hotel/vacation voucher.
Getting something in return for a charitable gift, cancels your ability to claim it as a tax deduction. Ask a few questions first. Find a reputable, high-performing local charity that will make the most of your donation so you can not only feel good about the donation, but use it as a legitimate tax deduction. Donating to the right local charity will assure you the highest deduction and allocate 100% of your donation to the charity (instead of paying a middle man who manages their charity car donation program).
Do Some Digging!
- What is the correct name of the charity?
- Are they a 501 (c) (3)? You can easily confirm 501 (c) (3) status using the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search
- How long have they been taking car donations?
- Ask what state you are calling?
- Where and who is the money going to help?
- How much of the donation helps the charity?
When in doubt, call the State Division of Consumer Protection to verify what percent of their funding is being used by the charity to fulfill their mission. The benchmark for a responsible charity is 75% to fund their charitable mission and 25% for administration.
Avoid Talking to Third Party Businesses Who Process Charity Donations
The charity ads that are so pervasive online are often paid for by third party businesses, not by reputable car donation charities. Those businesses take a hefty cut of the money earned from your car donation. So, find a charity that handles the transaction themselves, locally when possible. That way you can ensure that 100% of the profits go to the charity. It also makes it easier to hold them responsible if anything goes wrong or you had a bad experience.
Make Sure Your Intended Organization is a 501 (c) (3)
While many organizations can claim non-profit status, but donations made to anything other than a 501 (c) (3) are generally not tax deductible. Other charity designations may be for organizations with permission to lobby the government or who are largely funded by the government. If that’s of importance to you, make sure your intended recipient has 501 (c) (3) public charity status.
Transfer the Car Title Directly to the Charity and Keep a Copy
Never leave the ‘new owner’ or ‘buyer’ space on the title blank! If your charity asks this of you, find another charity! Be sure to date your signature. If you don’t formally sign your car over to the charity, you could be held responsible for liabilities ( for example, parking tickets that are subsequently incurred). The charity will probably not give your car to the needy, but will be selling it, or recycling it to raise funds. So transfer of ownership to the charity is your #1 concern. Here is an example of how to sign a Utah or Idaho Title over to the National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho: https://www.towkars.org/how-to-sign-the-title/
Determine the Value of your Deduction
There are general guidelines about charitable donations you should know before donating your car. Check with a tax professional before donating so you understand before you donate how the donation can positively reduce your taxable income. Tax deductions generally apply to those who Itemize deductions on their IRS 1040 federal tax return.
The amount of the tax deduction depends on the actual sale value of your donated car. With a generalized tax receipt, you are allowed to claim a fair market value up to $499. Unless the vehicle sells for $500 or more—then you can claim the actual selling price as your deduction using an IRS 1098-C provided to you by the charity. So you can claim up to $499 with the generalized tax receipt, or the car’s actual selling price with an IRS 1098-C using whichever value is higher. You can visit this website for more information. It contains all the IRS Publications, Guides and Forms to value and claim your car donation: https://www.towkars.org/car-donation-questions-faq/#toggle-id-4
Complete Your Paperwork
Non-cash donations are common – but it is so important to keep thorough documentation of a car donation. Specifically, keep a copy of the title signed over to the charity and the official tax receipt from the charity with their EIN/FEIN#. If the charity sells your car for more than $500, you will be entitled to receive an IRS 1098-C from the charity, to attach to your tax return.
Get your Tax Receipt!
If you don’t receive a tax receipt within 3-5 days of the car’s pick up, call the charity and make sure to have them email / US Postal Service mail you the tax receipt! Reputable car donation charities should be able to provide this receipt to you quickly.
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