All posts by Cars4Charities

Cars4Charities is a non-profit car donation center representing over 1,000 respected charities nationwide. http://www.cars4charities.org/

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

Ask questions. The more you know the more information 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. Will the charity process your car donation themselves or use a company to do it? If the charity uses a company, you may want to know how much of the proceeds the charity will receive.

The more informative 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.

The ABC’s of Car Donation – C is for Consider

Consider all of the aspects of car donation, both the positive and the negative. There are many practical reasons to donate your car to charity. It is much easier than trading in your car at a dealership and arguing over the trade in amount. It is also easier than trying to sell your car privately. You don’t have to wait for the phone to ring or for people to come to look at your car. And if your car does not run, is rusted or needs a lot of repairs selling it might be very difficult. When you donate car, you are eligible for a tax deduction of $500 or more. And, of course, you help a charity when you donate car.

There can be a negative side to car donation which you should consider.  One thing to consider is the tax deduction. You can only claim the deduction if you itemize on your federal tax return. If you don’t have enough deductions to itemize, you won’t get a tax benefit from your car donation. If you are not sure if you can itemize on your taxes, check with the IRS or a tax advisor. Also consider the reputation of the charity or car donation center you are going to donate your car to. It is very easy to check out a charity online or through various agencies like the IRS, Attorney General, etc. There are plenty of reputable charities you can donate car to; there is no reason to use an unscrupulous one. The “fly by night” ones may be out of business tomorrow and any record of your car donation will be gone.

You may also wish to consider the amount of money the charity you donate your car to will get from the sale of your car donation. Some for-profit car donation centers only send a small percentage of the proceeds from the sale of car donations to charity. Also, if you donate car to a car donation center that advertises a lot, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of your car donation will go to pay for those ads. If this concerns you, look for another charity to donate your car to.

The benefits of car donation greatly outweigh the disadvantages. You’ll reap only the benefits when you consider all the possibilities and act accordingly.

The ABC’s of Car Donation – B is for Beware

Beware of false claims.  Beware of any charity or car donation center that uses any of theses phrases; “full fair market value”, “maximum value”, “maximum deduction” “huge tax deduction”, “fully tax deductible” or “tax credit”.   First, there is no tax credit allowed for a car donation. The IRS allows a tax deduction.  A tax credit and a tax deduction are 2 completely different things. In order to claim a tax deduction, you have to itemize on your federal income tax return. This is generally known as “filling out the long form”.

The tax rules regarding the amount a donor can claim for a car donation changed effective January 1, 2005. If you donate your car to charity, the amount you can claim for your tax deduction depends on what the charity does with your car and the fair market value of your car on the day you donate car.

The fair market value is the amount you can reasonably expect to sell your car for in the open market in its current condition. Besides looking at local car ads, you can use several pricing guides to help you determine the fair market value of your car. Some of the more popular guides are the Kelly Blue Book, the National Automobile Dealers Association guide and the Edmunds guide. They all will help you determine how to value your car based on its condition, mileage and accessories. Use the figures for private party sales not the retail sales. Beware of over estimating the fair market value of your car. If you do and the IRS chooses to audit your tax return, you’ll not only lose part of your tax deduction, you may have to pay a penalty as well.

The other factor that determines the amount you can claim for your tax deduction when you donate car is what the charity does with your car. If the charity uses your car for their purposes, gives it or sells it a greatly reduced price to a needy person or makes substantial improvements to your car before selling it, you can claim the fair market value. These practices, however, are not the norm. Most charities sell car donations as-is. If the charity sells your car, you can claim the fair market value up to $500 or the amount the charity sells your car donation for if it is more than $500. IRS publications 526 and 561 will give you complete details on how to determine your tax deduction.

Beware of slick advertisements especially if you are concerned about how much of the proceeds the charity will get from the sale of your car donation. Radio and newspaper ads and billboards are very expensive. The donation centers that run these ads use a portion of the proceeds from car donations to pay for them.

Donating a car to charity can be a beautiful thing if you know how to avoid the pitfalls.

What Will My Tax Deduction Be if I Donate My Car?

When a person calls a charity to ask about car donation, they usually ask what their tax deduction will be if they do donate car. The answer is a little complicated. When you donate car to charity the amount you can claim on your taxes depends on two things; the fair market value of your car and what the charity does with the car.

The fair market value of your car is the amount you could sell it for on the day you is not more than the amount you paid for the car; in its present condition; without any repairs.  To determine the fair market value or FMV of your car you can use any of the popular pricing guides to help, including the Kelly Blue Book, NADA Guide or Edmunds Guide. If you are using the Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds Guide, you should start with the private party values and then adjust those values according to the mileage and condition of your car. Do not use the values listed under Retail or Clean Retail to determine the FMV of your car. These are the values for the car if it were purchased from a car dealer and in excellent condition. It is important that you are reasonable in determining which values to use based on the actual condition of your car.  The last thing you want is for the IRS to disallow your tax deduction during an audit because you inflated the FMV of your car.

Here are some general guidelines you can use to help determine the correct selection for the condition of your car;

Excellent Condition or Clean Retail means that the car has never had any body work and has no rust. This is basically “show room” condition. If your car had some body damage at one time, even if that damage was completely repaired, you should not use this category.

Good Condition or Clean Trade-in means the car has some very minor scratches, little or no rust, no major mechanical problems, good tires, etc. If your car has a dent, is rusted or has a significant problem like the transmission slips, the engine knocks, etc. you should not use this category.

Fair Condition or Average Trade-in means that the car is in reasonable running condition has some repairable mechanical problems, damage or rust. Most car donations fall into this category.

Poor Condition or Rough Trade-in means that the car has severe mechanical problems, damage or rust. If your car has a salvage title or flood title you must use this category.

The second thing that determines the amount you can claim for your tax deduction when you donate car is what the charity does with your car donation.  If the charity sells your car as-is, without making any major improvements, your tax deduction depends on the amount the car is sold for.  If the sale price is more than $500, the sale price is the amount you can deduct. In this case, the charity is required to provide you with IRS Form 1098-c. If the sale price is less than $500, you can claim the FMV up to $500.

If the charity sells the car after making major improvements you can claim the FMV as long as it is not more than the amount you paid for the car. In this case the charity has to provide you with a statement that they plan to make those improvements, what those improvements are and that the car will not be sold until after those improvements are made.

If the charity plans on keeping your car and using it for their purposes, you can claim the FMV as long as is not more than the amount you paid for the car. In this case, they have to provide you with a statement of their intent to use the car, how long they intent to use it and certifying that the car will not be sold until the completion of that use.

If the charity intents to donate car to or a needy person or sell it to them for much less that its FMV, you can claim the FMV as long as it is not more than the amount you paid for the car. In this case the charity must provide you with a statement of their intentions and that the gift or sale directly furthers its mission.

The Cost to Fix My Car is Just Too Damn High!

We have all probably been there; you bring your car in to the shop for what you think is a minor repair, then the mechanic comes to you and says the car needs expensive work.  Your reaction is to scream, “The cost is just too damn high”? Now what do you do? Well, you have a few choices.

You can pay the piper and get your car fixed. The question, of course is;”Is it worth it?” If the answer is; no or probably not, then there are some other things you can do with your car. You can trade it in for a new or better used car. Unfortunately, you may not get a particularly good trade in amount for the car if it needs significant repairs. You will have the same problem if you try to sell your car privately by advertising it the paper or online. It is extremely difficult to get a decent price for a car that needs repair. Even if your car is drivable, you have a legal obligation to tell the prospective buyer of any problems it has. If your car is really in bad condition, you can probably get a few dollars for it from a local junk yard.

If you itemize on your federal income tax return, you will get at least a $500 tax deduction if you donate your car to a charity. Sadly, many charities will not let you donate car if it does not run, is in poor shape or is over 10 years old. Fortunately, one charity; Cars4Charities does not care how old your car is, if it runs or what condition your car is in; they will proudly accept it as it is. Their simple requirements are that you have a title that is free of liens for your car, that the car is not stripped of any of its parts, that the tires are inflated and that the car is parked in a place where it can easily be towed.

Cars4Charities is recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) charity. Therefore, you be assured that they will handle your car donation properly and professionally. In return for your charitable contribution, you will get you a tax deduction of $500 or what Cars4Charities sells your car donation for, whatever amount is greater. They will also provide you with the forms you will need to submit with you taxes so that you can claim your valuable tax deduction.

Cars4Charities also allows you to donate car completely online at any time through their website, http://www.cars4charities.org/. This option greatly lowers their expenses enabling them to give more money to the charity you choose from their list of participating charities. It is also far better for our environment because it reduces the use of paper and other consumables.  If your car is in poor condition, Cars4Charities will make sure it is recycled properly.

For complete details on how to donate car, please contact Cars4Charities through their website http://www.cars4charities.org/ or by calling them toll free at 1-866-448-3487.

What do Charities do With Car Donations?

Many people who donate car to charity hope that the charity will give the car donation to a deserving person. Some charities do give away car donations, but they are in the minority. Those charities only give away cars that are in good condition and run. The reason is because the charity, like a used car dealer, by law can only give or sell a car to a needy person that passes inspection and meet the emission standards.

Most cars that are donated need some type of repair. Many car donations have major body damage or some mechanical problems and are donated because the donor does not want to fix it or cannot afford to fix it. Again, the charity is required to repair the car before they are allowed to donate car or sell it to a deserving person. Often, the cost these repairs is more that the value of the car. That is one of the major reason why most charities sell car donations directly to used car dealers or to parts yards either directly or through auctions.

One of the other reasons, most charities do not donate car is the fear of being sued by the recipient.  If the charity donate car to someone that later breaks down, the charity will may be liable for the repairs. In the worst case scenario, if the recipient gets into an accident with the car which results in injuries, the charity may have some major liability problems.

Another obstacle involved when a charity donate car to someone is the expense of car insurance, title and registration fees, and license plates. The recipient has to be able to afford these items and provide them before they take possession of the car. The charity cannot donate car unless the beneficiary has a valid driver’s license, insurance, license plates, etc.

When you consider the costs and liability issues involved it is not hard to understand why most charities choose not to donate car to needy people. It is not that charities do not want to donate car to people in need; it is that there are too many obstacles involved.

Got a Tax Problem? Here is One Solution

If you have an extra car and are looking for a way to reduce your income taxes, here is one recommendation.  You will get a tax deduction of $500 or more when you donate car to charity. Sadly, many charities will only let you donate car that is running, is in decent shape or is less than 10 years old. Cars4Charities does not care what condition your car is in; they will gratefully accept it no matter what shape it is in, how old it is or if it does not run. They only require that you have a title free of liens for your vehicle or some other proof that you are the owner, that your car is not striped of any parts, that the tires on your car are not flat, and that it is parked in a place where a tow truck can easily get to it. Cars4Charities will pick up your car donation fast and free, too!

In return for your charitable contribution, you will receive a tax deduction of $500 or what Cars4Charities is able to sell your car donation for, whichever amount is greater. They will also provide you with all the forms you will need to file with your taxes so you can claim your valuable tax deduction.

Cars4Charities also lets you donate car at your leisure online through their website, http://www.cars4charities.org/. This option greatly lowers their expenses and is beneficial for the environment since it reduces the use of paper and other consumables. You can donate your car to any of hundreds of very deserving charities at Cars4Charities, including many local food banks, homeless shelters, hospices, etc.

When you are ready to donate car, please contact Cars4Charities at http://www.cars4charities.org/ or call 1-866-448-3487. They will gladly explain the entire car donation process to you and provide you with prompt and professional service.

Top Ten Reasons to Donate Car to Charity

There are a lot of ways to get rid of a used car. You can trade it in at a car lot, you can sell it, you can junk it, or you can donate car to charity. There are many good reasons to choose car donation. Here are the top ten:

10.   You will not have to trade your car in for another one or argue with the car dealer over the trade-in amount.

9.      You will not have to pay to advertise your car for sale

8.       You will not have to sit at home and wait for interested buyers to call or come over to look at it

7.       You will not have to repair your car to make it easier to sell it. Cars4Charities will accept your car donation whether it runs or not.

 6.     You will not have to call the junk yard to come to pick it up.

5.      You will not have to pay for car insurance or registration fees anymore; in fact you may a rebate back on them.

4.   You will get free pickup.

3.   You can donate your car online any time at http://www.cars4charities.org/.

2.      You will get a tax deduction of at least $500.

1.      You will help support a very deserving charity.

Cars4Charities has an extremely impressive list of charities you can donate car to. That list includes International charities like Food for the Poor, Freedom From Hunger, the Fund For Peace, Helen Keller International, Partners in Health, the Smile Train, TropicalClinics, etc., National charities like the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Autism Speaks, the Brain Trauma Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Cancer Research Institute, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation, the Lam Foundation, the National Association for Down Syndrome, the National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Teach for America, as well as many State and hundreds of local charities like food banks, homeless shelters, and various other fine charities.

You will find complete details on how to donate car by going to http://www.cars4charities.org/ or by calling Cars4Charities at 1-866-448-3487 (GIVE-4-US).

Vote Yourself a Tax Deduction

Often, Election Day means going into the booth and vote for a candidate you feel may be the lesser of two evils.  If you have a car you do not need, you can vote yourself a tax deduction of at least $500 on your itemized federal tax return if you donate car to charity. You do not even have to pull a lever or mark a spot. It is already there for you.

If your car is in good condition, most charities will gladly take it. What they do with it is another story. Some charities will use the car or give it to a needy person. The majority of charities sell all donated cars. Many of those send all car donations to auction. If the price of the car does not exceed the auction fees, the charity will have to pay the difference. In that case, the charity will lose money on the car donation

Unfortunately, there are many charities that will only accept your car for donation if it runs, is in decent condition and is less than ten years old. Fortunately, one car donation charity will gratefully take your car no matter how old it is or whether it runs or not. That charity is Cars4Charities. They do not discriminate. They only ask that you have a title for your car or have some proof that you are the owner, have not taken parts out of it, and have it in a place where a tow truck can easily get to it.

When you donate your car to Cars4Charities, you will get a tax deduction on your itemized federal tax return of the greater of $500 or the amount they are able to sell your car donation for. Cars4Charities will also provide you with the forms you will need to file with your taxes in order to claim your valuable tax deduction.

Cars4Charities has a most impressive mix of charities you can donate car to. If your interest is in helping charities that provide International aid, you can donate your car to Aid for Haiti, Doctors Without Borders, Food for the Poor, Freedom From Hunger, Helen Keller International, Partners in Health, the Smile Train, TropicalClinics, etc. If you prefer to help fight disease or aliments, you can donate car to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, the American Parkinson Disease Association, the Arc of Massachusetts, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Autism Speaks, the Brain Trauma Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Cancer Research Institute, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation, the Lam Foundation, the Kelly Heinz Grunder Brain Tumor Foundation, the National Association for Down Syndrome,  the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, etc. If you favor helping locally, Cars4Charities has hundreds of local homeless shelters, food banks, hospices, etc. that you can donate car to.

For complete details on how to donate car, please call Cars4Charities at 866-448-3487 or go to their website, http://www.cars4charities.org/ .

Winterizing Your Car

Now that Fall is here, it will not be long before the temperatures get cold and the snow starts. That makes this a good time to get your car ready for winter. Here are some tips for winterizing your car;

1.   Check the tires and the spare. If your tires are worn, you should replace them. Worn tires do not provide much traction and do not handle well on wet or icy roads. The same is true for high performance tires. If you have those tires, you should consider putting snow tires on your car. You should also check the air pressure in your tires. Cold air makes the air in tires contract and that contraction may make the tires too low.

2.  Check the battery. Very cold temperatures can drastically reduce the power of your battery. You should have the battery tested at a certified repair shop. Also, check the posts and connections on your battery to make sure they are free of debris.

3.  Change the oil in the car. Many car makers recommend using less thick oil during the winter, so check your car’s manual.

4.  Check the belts and hoses. Replace any that show wear. You do not want to get stranded in the cold weather because of a broken belt or hose.

5.  Check the mixture of antifreeze. Ideally, there should be equal parts of antifreeze and water. You can purchase a tester for the antifreeze at most auto parts stores.

6.  Check the brakes, lights, heater and defroster and make any necessary repairs.

7.  Replace the wiper blades and fill the washer fluid reservoir.

8.  Check the 4WD on your car, if applicable. It should engage properly.

In addition to the above, there are several items you should put in your car in preparation for the cold temperatures and snow.  Here is a list;

1.  An emergency road kit including a blanket, flashlight, flares, etc.

2.  A first aid kit.

3.  A tool kit and jumper cables.

4.  A snow brush, ice scraper, small snow shovel, etc.

5.  A bag of sand or non-clumping car litter to use for added traction if your car gets stuck.

6.  Some extra clothes such as warm socks, a hat, gloves, boots, etc. to keep you warm if your car gets stuck.

7.  A small supply of water and food such as hard candy, nuts, and energy bars, etc., in case you get stranded.

When the temperatures get below freezing, remember to keep your gas tank full. This will prevent moisture from freezing the gas lines in your car. You should keep your cell phone charged in case you get stuck and keep an aerosol de-icer with you in case the door locks on your car freeze. Do not keep the de-icer in the car. It will not do you any good in the car when you are outside trying to get in!