Have a car or a truck that you want out of your garage? Want to get that heart warming feeling of having helped the needy? And last but not the least, want to pay less in taxes this year? Well, you can do all three at the same time! Just go ahead and donate that old car to a charity.
The charity can then go ahead and do any thing with the automobile – sell it, use it for ‘not for profit’ activities or even give it away to a needy individual. Whatever it does with the car, it has to be in accordance with the norms laid down by the IRS to benefit you (in terms of taxes). The organization has to justify the sale or re-donation of the donated vehicle. The donor has to be forwarded complete details about what the charity ultimately did with the car. This documentation has to reach the donor within 30 days of the donation being made. Thereafter the donor can submit the papers to IRS and claim a tax break.
Though this might look quite exciting, there are some ground rules that one has to keep in mind. First and foremost there is a threshold value of $500 set by IRS. What this means is that barring few exceptional cases, taxpayer can deduct no more than this amount from his taxable income even if the fair value of the car is higher. However, if the charity manages to sell the car at a price which is higher than the threshold price, all that the donor has to do is collect documents from the charity giving all the details and submit same to IRS and avail a higher deduction.
The $500 rule also states that if the fair price of the automobile is higher than the set threshold value but the charity manages to sell it at a price lower than $500, the taxpayer still gets to deduct $500 from his taxable income.
What happens if the fair price of the donated automobile is less than $500? In this case the taxpayer gets to deduct only the fair price amount from his taxable income.
What if the charity does not sell the donated vehicle within the stipulated 30 days and decides to use the same for humanitarian or public service activities for a couple of months and later decides to sell the car at a price that is higher than the threshold price? Here the donor can actually claim deduction at the fair market value as long as the charity is able to provide the donor with relevant documents pertaining to the selling price as well as how the auto was used for nonprofit works before the sale.
So, if you have a station wagon lying unused and unwanted in your garage after you bought your new shiny wheels, go ahead and donate it. Just make sure to follow the rules when you claim the tax deduction!
Brad Davis recommends that you visit http://www.specialkidsfund.org/donate_a_car.htm for more information on car donations .