Car Donation

Why Not Make a Car Donation?

There comes a time in the lives of most people when they end up with an old, broken-down car that just isn't worth a lot. Maybe it's the remains of that hot rod you spent so much time on back in high school; maybe it's something you inherited; or maybe it's just a lemon that you couldn't pass on to someone else. You want to get rid of it, but you don't want to spend the money to have it towed somewhere, and no one answered your ad in the Thrifty Advertiser. So what do you do?

How about you make a car donation?

Car donation charities have been around for a couple of decades now, but only in the last five years or so have they impinged upon the public consciousness in a significant way. From the American Diabetes Association to the Cancer Fund of American, many charities have begun accepting automobiles for resale so that they can build their funds. Although they specialize in automobiles (running or not), many car donation charities also take old boats and RVs, and some even take travel trailers. The only things they won't take are those few older cars whose value won't offset the cost of towing, and even then they'll take those if they're still drivable.

Here's how it works

If you're sick of that old beater, look up a local car donation center in the newspaper or on the Internet, or wait until you see an ad or get a flyer for a local one. Then simply call them up and have them come get it; it's not much more difficult than that. They'll make arrangements to acquire the vehicle, which costs you absolutely nothing, and they'll even handle all the title transfer requirements. All you have to do is give them the keys and hand over the title. They'll take your handy car donation away and either sell it to the highest bidder or have it crushed for scrap.

What you get out of it

Aside from the warm feeling that comes of having gotten rid of something useless, and the warmer feeling of having done good, most car donations count as charitable contributions -- which means you can write them off on your taxes. Some people used to take advantage of this by claiming a far greater value than their car was worth, but be aware that the government is starting to catch on to that kind of monkey business. New rules let you take a write-off of up to $500, unless the charity manages to sell it for more, in which case they'll drop you a postcard telling you so. Hold onto that notice if you get one -- you'll need it when you try to convince the government that your car donation of a '91 Yugo really was worth $2,000. Good luck with that!

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