The quick guide to donating your car to charity

Donate your junk car

If you’ve got an old car that’s bit the dust, you might be wondering what to do with it. To be clear, we don’t mean something that’s just in need of a few repairs. In that case, you might opt to fix it up yourself. Sure, it’d cost a chunk of change; but, in the end, it’d be back in working order. Or, you could sell it to someone who’s prepared to do the work themselves. Even a dealership might be interested in a vehicle with mechanical issues, depending upon the circumstances.

No, we’re talking a vehicle that it just doesn’t make sense to hold onto anymore. Maybe it’s completely dead, or maybe you just don’t have the money to fix it up. And, perhaps you’ve tried to sell it to a private party, or shopped around for a dealer that might want to buy it…but you haven’t had any luck. No one seems to want it, for one reason or another.

If you’re in this situation, donating it to charity could be a smart move. Aside from the fact that you’d be doing something good for the less fortunate, it can add up to a significant tax write-off if you file an itemized tax return.

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Wondering whether you should donate your car to charity? And, if so, how you should go about it? No need to read pages and pages of info to figure it out: just take a look at our easy guide below.

Is it a good financial move?

Before you do anything else, make sure that it’s actually a good move for you financially. First and foremost, you have to file an itemized income tax return in order to claim the charitable contribution. If you don’t itemize your return, you won’t be able to claim the donation as a deduction when filing your Federal income taxes. In addition to this, the charity will have to qualify from a tax perspective. If the charity doesn’t have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status with the IRS, you won’t be able to write off the donation of your vehicle. Lastly, find out what the charity plans to do with the vehicle. Depending on whether they intend to sell it, auction it off, or use it themselves, you’ll be able to claim a different amount for the car. If the charity intends to use it themselves or give it away to someone who’s in need, you’ll be able to deduct a larger amount on your tax return.

Find a charity and get the car to them

You likely already have a charity in mind. If you don’t, though, try running a search for charities related to a specific cause that’s important to you. Once you find a charity, you’ll need to get the vehicle to them. If it’s not in running condition, some junk car buyers will work with you to transport the car to the charity.

Receipt for your donation

Get a receipt

This is arguably the most important step of all. You’ve decided that donating is a sensible thing for you to do; you’ve found a charity; and you’ve gotten your car to them. Once they have the vehicle, you’ll absolutely need to get a receipt as evidence of the donation. Without the receipt, you won’t be able to claim the vehicle on your itemized income tax return.

Give yourself a pat on the back

This last step is, of course, optional. But if you donated your car to charity, you deserve a pat on the back for doing something good. Of course, the tax deduction doesn’t hurt, either.


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