Anyone Ever Donate a Car to Charity?

Discussion in 'General OFF TOPIC' started by Dr. Dolittle, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Dr. Dolittle

    Dr. Dolittle Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    I've got an older Volvo wagon that just keeps having annoying, and expensive, things go wrong with it. First the driver's door stopped opening from the outside handle. Now, the electric driver seat has jammed in a position where I can't really drive the car safely.

    The highest value I can find using NADA, KBB, etc is around $1800 BUT that's based on everything mechanical working properly. My indy, European car mechanic estimates right around $1000 to fix both issues. I'm obviously not sinking that kind of money into a car that's basically only worth 50% more than the cost of repairs.

    If I try to trade it in at a dealership, they're going to laugh me off the lot. My indy says he can only give me "a couple hundred bucks" since he knows about the necessary repairs. I don't want to go through the hassle of trying to sell such a sorry car on my own - too many phone calls and bickering over every penny.

    This leaves me with the option of donating the car to charity and taking the tax deduction. Anyone ever done this? Any advice? Do's and dont's?

    Seems like there's two distinct valuation methods. First is where they give you a receipt for the car but later mail you a statement informing you of how much the car sold for, and therefore the amount of your deduction. Second is where you use an online valuation like NADA and get to claim what the car was worth regardless of what they sell it for. Sounds like the second method is a no-brainer choice!

    Thanks for any help and ideas!
  2. Breeze3at

    Breeze3at Well-Known Member

    A couple of years ago, I gave my '88 Regal to a church. My wife just told me that we wrote our estimated value on the title when we signed it over ( I think I used KBB wholesale). We used that value on the "charaties" donation category of our income tax. I don't know if we did it all according to IRS, but it passed with our tax preparer.
  3. Breeze3at

    Breeze3at Well-Known Member

    I forgot do's and dont's; Notify your insurance right away, and surrender your tag to the DMV and tell them it has been donated. That way you aren't liable if it gets wrecked before someone takes time to do the title/registration.
  4. Dr. Dolittle

    Dr. Dolittle Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    Well, I certainly don't want to kill my own thread and stop anyone else's input...but...after driving around a bit running errands I've come to the decision that I'll get the seat fixed and keep driving this thing at least until May, when another vehicle gets paid off. Then I'll just run an honest ad on Craigslist and see how much I can get for it. I've been driving it for quite awhile with the driver's door busted so I don't even give that a second thought anymore.

    But please, any more good info on car donations is more than welcome!
  5. dbmg

    dbmg Experienced Member

    I just looked at a new van to replace my 2003 Dodge with 93000 miles and told sales manager I wanted $4,000.00 on trade and he was going to give me $3750.00 which I thought was not bad... The best solution is to repair the necessary items to keep running safely and then trade in. Or give dealer a shot at making deal with the a end of year left over and demand $2,000.00 as is to make deal........:naughty
  6. bikerdad

    bikerdad Junior Member

    My daughter moved to Jamaica with the Peace Corps and left me a junk 2000 sunfire with 250K on it, smashed rear fender, and a badley leaking water pump. I donated it to the VOA and they came and towed it away and sent me a tax deductadle receipt for $750.00. It was painless and the Veterens profited, It was a win-win.
  7. lorne

    lorne Senior Member

    when my step son got divorced his ex wife got the van....her name was charity, does that count? :naughty
  8. Dr. Dolittle

    Dr. Dolittle Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    Only if he got a receipt for the IRS!

  9. wjsjr

    wjsjr Member

    I donated a well-used but only slightly worn automobile to Goodwill, and the tax rules then were you could claim Fair Market Value ( Blue Book ). Since then the IRS has revised the tax code and you can only deduct what cash value the charity actually receives. Check into this before you donate and mail those returns.
  10. Jesse Pinkman

    Jesse Pinkman New Member


    The car a donor donates will eventually be sold to the highest bidder at an auto auction. I've been to these auctions many times. I've even purchased a few cars myself. These were the type of auctions where the auctioneer required that the attendee be a licensed dealer but in reality anyone could bid on a car if you knew the steps to take to bypass the rules and regs in order to gain entry.

    I haven't been to an auto auction in several years. In the good old days you could donate a car and the donor could expect to claim what the car was worth regardless of what they auctioneer sold it for. But that changed back around 2004/2005 or thereabouts. Nowadays they give you a receipt for the car but later mail you a statement informing you of how much the car sold for, which is the amount of your deduction. The auto auctions I attended were in California.

    As I write this my early 90's model Ford Explorer is overheating and was told just yesterday that it needs a head gasket and a thermostat which will cost somewhere around $1400 to install though at it's age it may not be worth fixing. So that means I might be going to an auction pretty soon to potentially purchase a used car that was donated by a benevolent soul.

    I have purchased perfect running cars from auto auctions before. Yep, some of these cars were great. Believe it or not, most of them were Asian rides that ran perfect and were obtained at a price that was hundreds of dollars below KBB. That's no exaggeration. I know, because I always did my homework the night before an auto auction. The thing is there are far, far less good running donated cars to pick from than in the past due to the new tax law that I wrote about in the previous paragraph. Obviously the new tax law no longer favors the donor.

    I quit going to auto auctions when they changed the tax law not because I wanted to quit going but because I was forced to quit due to a negative circumstance. I quit going because I noticed a significant decrease in the amount of donated cars that I had a preference for. I preferred cars that I could drive off the lot as opposed to having to tow it home. I preferred cars that would need, ideally, virtually zero engine and body work. I used to rate the car I bid on before I bid on it and almost all the cars I purchased would be ranked 7-10 on a scale of 1-10 in the body and engine department. After the new tax law was implemented there were many more eyesores that barely ran that were now being donated. Lots of 2's, 3's, and 4's, started to predominate the stock. It used to be a person could purchase a donated Asian car at auction and then turn around and flip it for a quick $500 profit (and have a little fun while doing it). Not anymore, thanks to the unfavorable tax law that came out a few years ago.

    You can't drive a donated car before you bid on it so you better believe that bidding on a donated car is a gamble even for a mechanic. In my opinion all a buyer can do is minimize the risk but never totally eliminate it. When the bidding begins the auctioneer will start the car up for each respective car. And you can always inspect the car of your choice before the bidding begins but you usually can't start the engine. Keep in mind my info is not up to date nor may it be relative to your area as I haven't been to an auto auction in several years and of course auction protocol will vary from town to town, state to state.