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Used Cars for Cancer Research

October 01, 2013 | Shan Grant

Donating used cars, trucks, boats, RVs, and motorcycles is a popular way of giving to your favorite charity. Working for the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), I have had some experience with the vehicle donation process and when it came time for me to part ways with my first car, I knew I would be donating it. Allow me to share my experience and what I discovered. Please keep in mind that many states and districts have varying laws related to taxation, and vehicle exchange ownership procedures may require further investigation based on individual circumstances. Also, I was concerned with ensuring my vehicle donation would lead to a tax deduction, so most of the details below revolve around that goal.

There are multiple ways for qualified charities to manage the car donation process. You may contact the charity directly, and either the charity or an authorized facilitator (a company or organization authorized by the charity to facilitate the donation) will schedule a time to pick up your vehicle. At that time, you may need to present the vehicle’s title and/or some other paperwork depending on the vehicle type; I was fortunate to have all my car’s paperwork. But I have heard of donors complaining about these requirements. Please know that some organizations can assist with the ‘paperwork’. CRI is aware that a lot of vehicles that are donated are generally older, haven’t been driven for some time and, in some cases, are stored off the road and are uninsured. Experienced charities and their facilitators are equipped to assist you through situations like those described above.

Once you have been relieved of your vehicle, it is then a matter of determining the value, which is typically acquired by appraisal or auction. That value will be the tax-deductible amount for the donor. Sadly, my car did not receive a substantial auction value and subsequently was sold as scrap (metal) for recycling purposes. Fortunately, that material value provided approximately $500, which was later transferred directly to CRI.

It would be fair to mention that some vehicles are not sold, auctioned, or dismantled; in some cases, depending on the charity, the vehicle could be used to further the cause of that charity in active use.  

As a final note, the most important detail to vehicle donation is, you must make sure you are donating your vehicle to a charity that is tax-exempt in your state; CRI is a nationally recognized charity and will qualify in your home state. This may seem obvious, but the IRS has strict regulations as to what contributions are considered tax deductible, so to avoid this complication by verifying with your charity or with the IRS directly. CRI has participated in the Car or Vehicle donation programs for many years and can assist you with identifying options. To arrange a vehicle donation, visit our online form or contact Shasell Negron at (800) 99-CANCER.

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