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  • Industry experts say car donation may be one of the least cost-effective methods.
  • The car-donation industry is riddled with fraud and deception, with many states investigating organizations for false advertising and self-dealing.
  • The car-donation industry is riddled with fraud and deception, with many states investigating organizations for false advertising and self-dealing.

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Car donation to charity?

Car-donation: Eight tips can help donors protect themselves while trying to help others.

Thinking of donating to your clerk for a good tax deduction? proceed with caution.

Gifting used cars to "charities" has become a preferred method of disposal of unwanted vehicles for Americans. And why not? You can avoid the headache of selling or jamming a car, helping a charitable cause and reducing your tax burden at the same time.

Unfortunately, the experience is rarely, in fact, such a win-win situation. Not only are donations typically seen to have very little income from the sale of a used car, but car donors can avoid the taxpayer if they are careful.

Charity for car donation | Getty Images

"At the end of the day, a donated car may be the least cost-effective way to donate," said Stephanie Kalivas, an analyst at Charity Watch, an organization that oversees the charitable giving industry.

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Charity for car donation  

The problem is that the industry is plagued by fraud and misrepresentation. The Attorney General of several states has investigated car donation donations for false advertising and self-dealing. Many organizations are for-profit middlemen who contribute tokens to a participating charity. Others misquote the cause they support and / or give a lower percentage of increased funds to their stated goals.

For example, Kars4Kids, a New Jersey-based organization that has a highly successful advertising jingle so far, has received more than 450,000 car donations, according to its website. However, the organization received a D rating from CharityWatch because it disbursed less than 50 percent of the funds it took and because, despite a national advertising campaign, it failed to adequately state that the money was only Jewish Goes to benefit children, and almost exclusively in the New York / New Jersey area.

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Kalivas said. "A lot of these organizations mislead the public, and people need to be careful."

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Kars4Kids public relations director Wendy Kirwan said the cost of marketing and operating the car-donation program is high, but that as the organization processes in-house donations, more money goes into its charitable work than others who are third Are from the side. She also said that while the lucrative ad jingle does not spell what children benefit from donations, information is readily available on their website kars4kids.org. "It's an innovative way to support charities in a way that helps charities and donors," Kirwan said. "A lot of people would not otherwise donate to charity if it wasn't with their car."

For those who dispose of a completely unwanted car, for which they will not deduct tax, it may not seem possible what happens to the vehicle and who benefits. However, Kalivas suggests that if people sell their cars on their own and donate, the charity would be much better off, or simply called charity, if they know they have car donation programs.

If the car in question is valuable and you plan to deduct for it, protect yourself. Individuals donating cars may inadvertently mark themselves with big red flags for Internal Revenue Service auditors.

When donating a car, here are eight important things that you should consider in order to maximize the benefits of donation and minimize the risk to yourself.


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Car donation trips

1. Research donations if you plan to give it. If it does not have a 501 (c) (3) non-profit status with the IRS, it is not a charity and your donation is not tax-deductible.

2. Choose efficient donations to give. There are many organizations such as CharityWatch that evaluate charities and rate them for efficiency in supporting their cause.

3. Item. To take a tax deduction for car donation, you must itemize the deduction on your return. There are detailed rules about the amount you claim. Taxpayers can deduct the full market value of the donated car under three circumstances: the charity uses the car in its functions; It makes physical improvements to selling or using the vehicle; Or the charity donates or sells to a needy person for less than the market price. Otherwise, you can only deduct what the charity receives as income from selling the car.

4. Get a receipt. Be sure to obtain a receipt from the charity for the vehicle and eventually certify how much the vehicle was sold for. Donations are necessary to prove

5. Do not forget IRS Form 8283. If the sale price or fair market value of the car exceeds $ 500, you must complete Section A of IRS Form 8283 and file it with your tax return. Consult Kelly Blue Book, Hurts Black Book or National Auto Dealers Association for market prices. If the car is worth more than $ 5,000, you need to make an independent assessment of it and also complete Section B of Form 8283.

6. Take it off. If the car is road-worthy, drive it to the charity you are donating. This saves money and ensures that you are not giving the car to some unrelated, beneficial intermediary. Make sure the organization signs the car title and that a representative signs it as well. If someone is picking up the car, have them sign the title and take a photocopy of it. People have been on the hook for liabilities on donated cars that were not properly signed for a new owner.

7. Snap it. Take pictures of the car and keep receipts for work and repairs on it - especially if you are claiming a deduction for it.

8. Read. Read IRS Publication 4303 - A Donor Guide to Car Donation.
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