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The ABC’s of Car Donation - A is for ASK


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Ask questions. The more you know the more informative decision you will make regarding whether to donate your car and what charity to donate car to. Here are some questions, you should ask:

1. What kind of vehicles does the charity accept for donation? Some charities only accept cars that run and are less than 10 years old. If your car doesn’t qualify, the sooner you know it, the less time you’ll waste and the sooner you can look for another charity that will accept your car.

2. What will the charity do with my car? The answer to this question is very important as it affects the amount you can claim for your tax deduction. If the charity uses your car for its purposes, makes major repairs to it or gives it to a needy person, you can claim the fair market value of the car. If the charity sells your car, which is what most charities do, you can claim the amount they sell it for or $500, whichever is more.

3. Do I have to pay to have my vehicle picked up? If the answer is yes, call another charity. You should never have to pay to have your vehicle picked up.

4. What kind of receipt for tax purposes will I receive? The answer depends on what the charity does with your car donation. If it the charity plans on using the car, repairing it or giving it away, you should receive at letter indicating those intentions. If the charity sells your car donation for more than $500, they are required to provide you with IRS Form 1098-c. If your car donation is sold for less than $500, the charity is simply required to provide you with a written acknowledgement of your donation. For complete details, see IRS Publication 4303.

5. What do I do with the title to my car? Some charities will ask you to give the title to the tow truck driver, while others will ask you to mail the title to them via certified mail. The reason some charities will ask you to mail the title is because it is safer for you to have the title in the hands of the charity rather than those of the tow truck driver. The receipt from the certified mail will be your first proof that you donated your car. Also, if you mail the title, you may not have to be present when your car is picked up. Never, leave your title in the car. If you do, you could end up with no car and no proof of your car donation.

6. What do I do with my license plates? If your car has license plates from any Sate except Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas or Washington State on it, you are required remove them and either return them to the Department of Motor Vehicles or transferred them to another car. Many of those States will not allow you to cancel your car insurance until you have done so. Do not leave your car parked on the street without license plates on it. If you do, you may get a ticket or your car may be impounded before the charity’s towing service arrives to pick it up. In this case, you will be liable for all fees.

7. Does the charity process car donations themselves or use a company to do them? If the charity uses a company to process car donations, you may want to know how much of the proceeds the charity will receive.

The more information you have, the more you will be able to determine if you want to donate car and if so, what charity you want to donate car to.


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