Donating Your Car: Worth the Cost?


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It’s easy to contribute a vehicle to charity if all you desire to do is get rid of it. Simply call a charity that accepts old automobiles, and it will tow your heap away.

If you want to get something in return for your junk automobile, though, it’s more complex. Before 2005, it was easy for taxpayers to deduct the whole “fair market price” of a donated car from their taxable earnings, minimizing the taxes they’d be required to pay to the Internal Revenue Service.

Permitting taxpayers to subtract the full fair market value for all those contributed automobiles cost the IRS a lot of money, however, so they tightened up the guidelines. Today, you can only deduct a car’s fair market price under very specific conditions. We’re going to walk you through those conditions, with the normal proviso that you need to discuss these problems with your tax preparer before. Similarly, note that this is only a broad explanation, not an in-depth how-to.

Money for Your Old Car or Truck: The $500 Donation Limit

In the majority of circumstances, a taxpayer needs to take into account a $500 threshold on automobile gifts. This worth quantity applies to automobiles, boats as well as aircraft. When the contributed car’s worth (based on reliable fair market worth analyses) exceeds that amount, declaring the deduction gets more complicated.

This valuation ceiling enters into play when a charity sells a donated vehicle. In this case, just what does it cost? a taxpayer can subtract depends on the amount the sale nets.

For example, you donate your old compact car that’s worth $1,000. Under the old guidelines, that would be the quantity you could deduct. But now, if the charity turns around and sells your car for $800, your reduction is limited to the lower total.

On the plus side: If the charity sells your automobile for less than $500, you can deduct $500 or your vehicle’s fair market price, whichever is less. For example, if your automobile is valued at $650 then sells for $350, you can still deduct $500 from your taxes.

Doing It Right

If the vehicle is worth $5,000 or more, an independent appraisal is needed. The donor should likewise submit Section B of IRS Form 8283. For automobiles worth less than $5,000, but more than $500, utilize the Kelley Blue Book, the Hearst Black Book, or a guide from the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) to figure out the marketplace worth.

Be aware that non-cash contributions are one of the most typical triggers to an audit by the IRS, so you’ll wish to record the worth of the car and keep records of it. At a minimum, the documentation you get from the charity should include your name, the automobile identification number, the date of your donation and a statement explaining the goods and services you got, if any.

Make certain you utilize the correct figure for the date, mileage, and condition of your vehicle. Take pictures of the cars and truck and save invoices for brand-new tires or other upgrades to verify its worth. Remember, it is the donor, not the charity, who is obliged to value the car or truck and who will pay the price if an IRS investigation discovers your figure incorrect.

If all that sounds too complicated for your tastes, do not fret. You can always junk your vehicle instead.

October 11, 2016 |

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