If you’re in a position to get rid of a vehicle and don’t need the proceeds from a sale, you have a few options. You can leave the car sitting in your front yard until it returns to the salt of the earth, you can run it downhill into the river, or you can donate it. But if we’re being honest, donating is the only real option here.
Donating a vehicle can be a mutually beneficial arrangement, where the organization of your choice gets the upside of selling the car and keeping the money and you can, in most cases, use the donation as a tax deduction. So, where’s the best place to donate your car? How can you be sure you’re doing the right thing. Car Bibles’ covers that, as well as some of the terms you need to know when you’re considering donating your car. Let’s get started.
What Exactly Is Donating a Car?
If you’re sitting at home, staring at your old rustbucket car and wondering how or why anyone would want you to donate it, you should know that donating a car is mainly a financial event and not one related to mobility. Nobody wants your Chevy Vega to actually drive. The charities that accept car donations typically take that car and sell it. The proceeds from that sale help fund the organization’s mission.
What’s the Best Place To Donate My Car?
There are several reputable organizations that accept vehicle donations. Some you may have heard of, such as Habitat for Humanity, but the “best” place to donate a car is the organization that aligns with your values and that does work that you are interested in. Just make sure that you understand the organization’s structure and whether or not you’ll be able to claim the donation as a tax deduction.
What Kinds of Vehicles Can I Donate?
This will depend largely on the charity or organization of your choosing. Some, such as Habitat for Humanity, accept almost anything, including snowmobiles, boats, farm equipment, and construction machinery. Check with the organization before you donate.
What Happens After I Donate?
In most cases, the organization that received your car will sell it and send you a letter or receipt to acknowledge the sale and donation, which you then can use to reduce your tax bill.
Can I Donate a Broken Car?
In most cases, yes, but it’s still a good idea to check with the organization you plan on donating to. Broken vehicles may require a special sale process that some organizations are not equipped to handle.
The Car Bibles Glossary of Car Donation Terms
Donate refers to the act of giving money or other items of value for a good cause, such as a nonprofit organization. In this case, donating a car or another type of vehicle refers to the gift of the vehicle and the subsequent sale by the nonprofit to obtain funds.
- Tax Deduction
When you donate to a tax-exempt organization, you can sometimes record the donation on your taxes, which will reduce your taxable income. We’re far from being expert tax accountants here, so it’s best to check with your local expert to find out how much you’ll be eligible to claim.
Nonprofits typically operate for the betterment of a cause or for the advancement of a particular point of view. They can be related to religion, research, education, or other related causes. Most colleges and universities, for instance, are considered nonprofits, as are churches.
- Fair Market Value
In most cases, claiming the value of your donated car for a tax deduction will require you to claim what is known as the fair market value (FMV). In some cases, you can use sources like Kelley Blue Book or the NADA guide, but you’ll have to opt for the FMV instead of the highest value listed for your vehicle.
Your Questions, Our Answers on Donating a Car
Your burning questions answered!
Q: I Miss My Car. Can I Get It Back?
A: In most cases, probably not. Once you’ve initiated the process of donating a car, the ball is rolling and the organization you donated to doesn’t actually have possession of the vehicle. It might be possible to track it down, but you’ll have a heck of a time working through lawyers and sales companies to find it.
Q: Can I Donate Car Parts?
A: Check with your preferred organization, but the answer here will likely be no. Most don’t require that the car be running, but do request that it’s at least in one major piece. If you’re intent on donating parts, it’s best to sell them and then donate the resulting cash.
Q: I Have a Loan On My Car. Can I Donate It?
A: Again, probably not. Nonprofit organizations are only looking for vehicles with clean, clear titles that are not owned by a bank.
Q: I Lost My Title. Will I Need It?
A: Yes. You will need to either track down the title or have a new one made for your vehicle. The organization needs to be able to verify that the vehicle is owned by you, so make sure you’ve got all the paperwork in order.
They’re not a requirement, but you can buy products to help make donating a car easier for you and the organization of your choosing. You have a sea of options to select from. We picked three selections we think you’d benefit from, a mileage and maintenance log book, and a vehicle document binder, and a scanner to help you find issues with your car pre-donation. These are some of the best, reasonably priced, products around, and might make your donation process smoother.
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