Follow These Simple Steps To Donate Your Car To Charity In All 50 States

Why Should I Donate My Car To Charity

You can help a lot of people all across the Nation by donating your old car, junk car or unused car to charity. Charities such as kars4kids, veterans charities, breast cancer charities, charities for the homeless and so forth will all accept your car in order to use it to help others less fortunate.  Sometimes you donated car is used for scraps and other times it will be cleaned and resold to someone while the proceeds go to charity. It all depends on the condition of the vehicle.  If you are ready to donate your car, make sure you follow these steps and also check with your accountant about the tax deduction.


Make Sure You Are Ready To Donate Your Car

Make sure you want to donate your vehicle  to charity. Think about it thoroughly before you do it-you can't take it back once you go through the process.


Get The Title Ready

Make sure you have the title for the vehicle you want to donate in Sacramento.  If you own the car outright, you should have a valid title. If for some reason you do not have the title, but do own the car, In California for instance, you can get a duplicate title by filling out a form REG 227 and REG 226- (you can obtain them from your local Department of Motor Vehicles-or on their website). You have to sign both forms since you are technically the "seller." Check your state Department of Motor Vehicle Website for these forms.


Get The Car Ready

Make sure you remove everything from the car that you need. You do not want to find out later that you left something valuable in the trunk or glove compartment. You should make sure the car is cleaned in general (although most charities will take the car in any condition). Also, at this time you should search for the book value of your car in its current condition. This will give you and idea of your deduction amount.


How Do I Choose A Charity To Donate My Car To?

Choose the charity of your choice. It could be whatever is dear to your heart or it could be what charity you think needs it most. You can search online for charities to donate your car to; there should be an abundance of charities. You can go to your local church or community center to find charities to donate your car to or even donate it to them.  Some other charities to donate your car to include: Cars for Breast Cancer, Cars for Veterans, and Cars for Kids.  Sites such as "America's Car Donation Center," "1-800-Charity Cars" and "Cars for Causes," can also help you find an appropriate charity to donate your car. Also check out Forbes Magazine's "Top 200 Charities." The link is at the bottom of this page under "resources."

Charities recommended by those organizations listed above are usually legitimate so you can donate with piece of mind. You should search the IRS website to make sure that the charity you chose is a qualified charity for you to receive a tax deduction. Since some qualified charities may not be listed on the IRS site-such as some churches, and synagogues you should call the IRS  Account Services toll free number (877) 829-5500 to be sure.


Fill Out The Vehicle Donation Form

Once you choose the charity, you then donate your car.  Fill out the Vehicle Donation Form on the charity's website.  You can speak to the charity's donation contact person if you have any questions on how to fill out the online form or if you wish to fill out the form at the charity's location instead. You will be asked a series of questions about yourself, the vehicle location and the condition of the vehicle.

After you have filled out the form then you and the charity can work out when they can pick up the car.  Once you donate the car, it is hard to say what the charity will do with it.  They will decide whether they can sell the car as a whole or sell the car for scraps and parts depending on the condition of the vehicle. There should be no costs to you at all, even if the car needs to be towed.


Return the License Plate To The DMV

Remove the plates once your deliver the car or after you have it towed. In California, the plates must remain on the car while in transit. In Arkansas, Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisiana, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington, Texas and California the plates must remain on the car. The plates should then be returned to the DMV after it reaches its destination. 


Get A Receipt

Get a receipt from the charity that you donated your car to.  This is a VERY important step. Make sure you get the receipt the same day if you can.  You will need this receipt for your records and to file your taxes.


Submit A Release Of Liability Form

In California as well as in Arizona, you must also turn in a Release of Liability, REG 138 which may be called a "Report of Sale" and put "donation" when it asks for the purchase price. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state to make sure you do not have to submit a release of liability form.


Prepare For Tax Time

Claim it on your taxes. You can only claim donating your car as a deduction if you itemize  using Schedule A of Form 1040 and form 8283. Find out what the deduction amount is from the charity. If they did not provide you with that information within four weeks, give them a call.  Your deduction can be up to $500 or in some states-the market value of the car. If your deduction is more than $500 then you MUST include the following:

A written acknowledgment  from the charity containing the following information:

  • Your name and taxpayer identification number
  • The vehicle identification number
  • The date of the contribution, and one of the following:
  • A statement that no goods or services were provided by the charity in return for the donation, if that was the case
  • A description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that the charity provided in return for the donation, or
  • A statement that goods or services provided by the charity consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits, if that was the case


How You Can Help Someone Else with Stuff You No Longer Use

Clean Out Clutter To Help Someone Less Fortunate: Where You Can Donate Unused Household Items


Related and Important Links

Car Donation Tax Write Off


Important Links and References and Resources A Donor's Guide to Vehicle Donation Guide To Donating A Car Charitable Contributions of Cerain Motor Vehicles Charitable Contributions

California Department of Motor Vehicles: Notice of Release-REG 138

California Department of Motor Vehicles: REG 227

Forbes Magazine: Top 200 Charities