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Donating your car to charity

Donating your car to charity, in the past, was a bit simpler than it is today, but still may be the route you wish to take. In the past you would simply look up the vehicle’s value through an auto evaluation service, the most common being Kelley Blue Book. Then you could receive that price as a tax deduction on your return. Nowadays things have changed a bit because people were lying on their taxes to receive more than their donation was worth, so now the tax break is based off of the claimed value of the car, as well as what your charity does with it.

So if the charity winds up liquidating the donated assets to acquire monetary funds, whatever they sold it for becomes a cap placed on your deduction amount. Needless to say, if they sell the car for less than what you claim it to be worth, your tax break goes down. They are required to provide you with all pertinent information needed for your records, including confirmation of the donation amount as allowed by the IRS within 30 days of the time of donation. Unless they sell the vehicle, in which case they would have 30 days from the date of sale.

The charity should take it upon themselves to contact you to let you know what has been done with your donation so that you can calculate the amount of your available deductions. You need to stay on top of this or you won’t be able to file the correct data in your return, so if they don’t get in touch with you, give them a call to get a copy of the donation’s specifics. You will have to send in a copy of that acknowledgement with your tax return when you file it to receive your break. Aside from the law changes in 2005, everything else is pretty straight forward, and most charities will retrieve the used car for you, saving you the hassle of dealing with it at all.

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