How To Participate in an Auto Donation

Ever since the tax law was revised in 2004, many people have begun donating used cars to charity in order to receive a tax break. Needless to say, this is not the right reason to donate vehicles. Donating your car to charity can be an investment in other people's futures, if you choose the proper charity.

The first thing you should do is make sure that your car is worth donating. No charity can use a car that is in poor condition. Assess the value of the exterior and interior of the car, and be honest with yourself when doing so. If the car needs a lot of body work or has had to be repaired frequently, think twice before donating it. You should also look up the fair market value of your car to determine how much it is actually worth prior to donating it to charity.

If you have done these assessments and still want to donate your vehicle, it's important to take pictures of the interior and exterior of the car. You should also save any recent receipts for tire work or other repairs to the vehicle. This documentation will be important at tax time; you'll need it in order to get the tax break for vehicle donations.

Now it's time to choose the charity which will receive your vehicle donation. You should make a list of several charities that support causes which interest you. Consider both religious and non-religious charitable causes. Find out how each charity would use your car. Some charities may use the car to transport clients, while others may sell the car and use the profits to benefit the charity. Some charities even allow processing companies to handle the pick-up, delivery, and sale of vehicles, and pay those companies a portion of the sale proceeds in exchange for their service.

You should choose a charity whose used car program you are comfortable with. Most importantly, find out how much money the charity will get from your donation. Some sales programs only give the charity a very small, flat fee such as $50. If your car is worth several thousand dollars, this may not be the best charitable program to receive your car.

Once you have chosen a charity, you need to make arrangements to have the car picked up or delivered to the charity. Many charities will arrange to have the car driven or towed to their facilities.

It takes effort to research auto donation programs and find the one that best suits your interests. However, it is a worthwhile endeavor - and not just because of the tax break. There is nothing quite as rewarding as knowing you have helped others, especially in an area that is of concern to you.


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