Car Donation Programs: Look Before You Donate

February 15, 2015

Car Donation Programs: Look Before You Donate

Hundreds of charities have begun to adopt car donation programs as a way to raise funds or to provide themselves with no-cost vehicles to help operate their programs. But rather than managing the car donation programs themselves, they will often turn to fundraising organizations to actually handle the donation and auctioning of the vehicles. And that policy can mean a problem for you.

If you run an Internet search on car donation programs, you will get hundreds of hits from fundraisers who claim that they will let you choose from among a group of charities to which the proceeds of your cars sale, of not the car itself, will go. And they will give you the paperwork you need to claim your car donation as a charitable deduction on your IRS return.

Taking Advice From The IRS

But the IRS itself, in recent years, has become alarmed at the proliferation of car donation programs run by fundraisers which end up keeping the bulk of the proceeds they receive for donated cars. The IRS recommends that it you are considering any of the car donation programs, you contact the people running it and get a clear answer as to whether they are charity officials, or private group acting for the charity.

If you find that they are a private group running the car donation programs of several charities, find out exactly what they plan to do with the car you donate. Will the car be repaired and given to the charity to help in its work? Or do the fundraisers intend to auction the car off and if so, how much of the proceeds will go to the fundraisers, and how much to the charity?
Car donation programs which cannot, or will not, give you clear answers to these questions are not those on which you can depend to see that your ca, or the money it brings gets, to the charity of your choosing. And if the charity does not directly receive the car or its value, you do not have the right to claim the value of the car as a deduction.

Legitimate car donation programs greatly simplify the process of connecting you with a charity which will benefit from your gift. But its your responsibility to research the various car donation programs in you area and ensure that as much a possible of your cars value will be channeled to the charity, and that the charity itself is one recognized by the IRS. Otherwise, your well-intended car donation may turn into a big problem at tax time, when you attempt to take an unwarranted deduction!