A Guide to Cell Phone Signal Boosters

Poor cell phone reception continues to be a major problem…

Debt Busters: The Complete Guide to Getting out of Debt

When it comes to getting out from under the mountain…

Donate a Car in the Bay Area

Donate a Car in the Bay Area

Choosing what to do with your old car after purchasing a new one can be more of a time sink than it’s worth, especially in San Francisco. Rather than trying to sell the old car on Craigslist or trading it in for much less than it’s worth, you may want to look into donating the car to a charity of choice in the Bay Area. The benefits to this range from the knowledge that you’re helping a worthwhile cause to receiving a tax deduction closely equivalent to the fair market value of the car.

Steps to Donate a Car

The first step in donating your car to a charity in the Bay Area is to do some research to determine which charities you support and actually accept cars as a donation. The next thing you’ll want to be sure to verify is that the charity is a registered as a 501(c)(3) charity, otherwise you won’t be able to deduct the sale price of the vehicle on your taxes. Finally, make sure that you’re actually donating to the charity itself, rather than a middle man who will take a percentage of the sale price, resulting in less money for the charity.

Once you’ve settled on the charity to donate the car to, the next step is the actual donation part. If the car is legally drivable, then it’s always best to drive it to the charity yourself so that they don’t have to use their own resources to either have it towed or have someone pick it up. A key thing to note at this step is to make sure that you fill out the assignment of ownership portion of the documentation when signing over the car, rather than leaving it blank for the charity to fill out. If you fail to fill this section out, then you’re still liable for anything that happens to the car until someone else takes ownership, including parking tickets, damages, etc.

At this point you may be wondering how much you can actually deduct for the car on your taxes. You used to be able to deduct the fair market value of the car, but recent changes have been made so that now, if the car is valued at more than $500, then the amount you can deduct is dictated by the sale price of the car at auction. Once your car is sold, the charity will notify you of the sale price, and you can then fill out IRS form 8283 to deduct the sale price of the car. There are a couple of instances when you can deduct the fair market value of the car, specifically when:

  • The charity keeps the vehicle for its own use
  • The charity makes improvements to the car before it goes up for sale
  • The car is sold at a discounted price to a person of low income

With the fast pace, lack of parking and abundance of charities in the Bay Area, a very logical thing to do with a car you’re looking to get rid of is to donate to charity. Many times it’s not worth the time or effort to attempt to sell your car when giving it away is a quick, simple and worthwhile process.