Used Car Donations

Written by Johnny Kitchens
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With the odd exception, the donation of a car to charity by a member of the public almost always involves a used car. Sometimes car companies or dealerships will make the donation of new cars to charity but the public generally does not. A new car loses so much value as soon as it is driven off the lot that a person would be better served by simply writing a check to the charity. A car donor is only allowed to deduct the fair-market value of the donated car at the time it was donated rather than the price he or she paid for it.

To donate a used car to charity, it must at least be in relatively good running condition. Junker cars do not fetch much money at auction and often cannot cover the expense of towing them or getting them to run in preparation for sale. A typical car donation scenario involves transferring the paperwork, towing the car to auction and selling it, with the proceeds going to the charity. A new car is usually requested by a charity for its use within the organization rather than going through normal car donation procedures.

Donating your used car to charity is an exemplary action in itself but you should consider trying to increase its resale value if you can. This means making small repairs or cosmetic enhancements like throwing in a new battery, repairing upholstery, or replacing a worn tire. Such quick fixes can result in a greatly increased selling price at auction and results in a greater donation. Charities often do not have the time or money to do these things themselves.

The Procedure for Donating a Used Car

The first step in donating a used car is calling the charity to make sure they can accept it and then asking about the procedure. It will usually involve filling out (and signing!) A few forms. A pick-up time will be scheduled and you will need to sign over the title when the agent or processor arrives to pick it up. That ends your involvement in the process. You will receive a formal letter of receipt and thanks which will serve as proof of the donation for tax purposes.


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