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Donating Your Vehicle to a Charity in California
Written by Phil White - Posted October 19, 2019
A simple and effective way to help out a charity in California is to donate your vehicle. This article will show you the simple steps to the vehicle
donation process in California. You will be helping out a great charity of your choice and also receive a tax deduction when the vehicle is sold at
auction. But you must use caution when donating a vehicle to a charity.
The First Steps
The entire donating process for the most part is fairly simple. You need to do your research to find a qualified charitable organization that is
classified as non-profit so you can receive your tax deduction. Before you donate a vehicle make sure the charity that you choose is recognized by
the Internal Revenue Service, otherwise your tax deduction may be rejected by the IRS. You should always check the IRS’s website for additional
information and details in regards to certain charitable organizations.
Before turning your vehicle over to a charitable organization, you must first make sure the charity is legitimate, which can easily be done by doing
detailed searches and reading various reviews for the charity that you have selected. Then make sure that you will actually receive the said tax
deduction for your vehicle donation from a particular charity. Then research the true value of your vehicle so you’ll have an idea what it is actually
worth. Remember you can only deduct the actual dollar amount that the charity has sold the vehicle for. Also ask the charity a few important
questions in regards to how the vehicle proceeds will be used. You will want to know what programs and services will benefit. This very important,
as a donor, find out if you are obligated to any additional responsibilities after the donation.
Finding the Right Charitable Organization
The charity that you select should have a good “efficiency rating” so more of the funds are used for the charitable cause and less on administration
costs. Before selecting a charity, search for charity rankings, reviews, and recommendations from various well respected organizations. The bottom
line to finding the right charitable organization is doing your research first.
Additional Questions Your Need to Ask the Charitable Organization before Donating
Here are some additional questions you need to ask the charity before you donate your vehicle. Does my vehicle have to pass a smog inspection
before donating? Does my vehicle need be in running condition to donate? Does my vehicle have to be registered? Are all donated vehicles sold at
an action or used for something else? Will I be charged a towing fee and will there be any other hidden fees? How long before my donated vehicle
will be picked up? And most important, will I be notified when the donated vehicle sells at auction? Asking these all-important questions will help
eliminate any post donation issues.
Tip: Also ask the charitable organization for a contact phone number in case you receive a notice of a lien sale, infractions or any other legal or
Tax Laws Affecting Your Vehicle Donation
You can get information about tax-exempt organizations, including those eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions, by using
“Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool” on the www.IRS.gov website. Once at the IRS website use the search box to find “Exempt Organizations
Select Check Tool.”
Tip: When a vehicle sold by a charitable organization the donor can only deduct the gross proceeds and nothing more.
If you are claiming $250 but not more than $500 vehicle value, you must obtain documentation from the charitable organization stating the
donation date, your vehicle description and the fact that nothing was given to you from the charitable organization in exchange for the donated
vehicle. If your deduction exceeds $500, use IRS Tax Form 1098-C and carefully follow the instructions as outlined in the form. For additional
donated vehicle tax related information, please refer to IRS Publication 4303, “A Donor’s Guide to Car Donations.”
Tip: Always consult a certified tax professional in regards to getting the maximum tax deduction from donating your vehicle to a
Remember to do your research before selecting a charitable organization. Beware that there are scams out there. And most important, you are
helping to provide valuable services and programs to the less fortunate individuals in your community. Donating your vehicle is a great they to do.