Goodwill Car Donations - Getting a Tax Break Doing a Good Thing

by: Chuck Brown

Buying any new automobile is a fun part of life. Even if you are buying a previously used model - it's still new to you. You get to finally get out of your older car and get one that is newer, shinier or more dependable. However, that brings about a problem: Now you have to decide what to do with your old car or truck.

Have you considered a goodwill car donation? If your vehicle is old, you aren't likely to get much for it on a trade-in anyway - even though most car dealers will fool you into thinking that you will. If you don't trade it in, you have 3 further options:

1. Attempt to sell it by yourself. The drawback to this is now you need to get it working and or looking good. And regardless of how much trouble this may or may not be, now you must advertise as well as go thru the hassle of actually selling it.

2. Keep it for an extra vehicle for those times when you may need it. But now you'll need to pay for the extra insurance coverage along with maintenance, licenses and fees every year. These expenses are now "extra," because now you have to also pay for your new vehicle at the same time.

3. The third alternative would be to give your car to a charitable organization! A goodwill auto donation is actually a great way to make space for your new vehicle while doing something good for folks less fortunate than you.

Let's answer a few questions you probably have regarding donating your car to a charity:

Q: Will my vehicle need to be operating as well as in good condition to be donated?

There are going to be some charities that need your car or truck to be in running condition when it is donated. Typically this is because they intend to provide the car to some family in need. But in most cases, they do not care if the car is running or if it is a heap of junk sitting in your front yard rusting away; they'll have it towed and sell it to a salvage yard.

The cars and trucks that require minimal repairs may get restored and then sold or offered to households in need of assistance.

Q: Is it better to sell my old car - from a personal financial standpoint - or are car donations more beneficial to me?

This can be a tricky question. Naturally it is better for both the charity and people that may benefit from your car through the charity, if you can afford to donate your car or truck. Many people, however, need the money that their car might provide them from a trade-in, and others simply want the money - even if they don't really need it.

A good guideline is to find the Kelly Blue Book value of your car or truck. If it's lower than a thousand dollars, you should not waste your time trading it in or selling it. Because it will mean a great deal more to some charity compared to the tiny amount of money you could potentially receive.

One suggestion maybe you have not considered: Sell your used car and split the money with your charity. This would be perfect if your selected charity does not take vehicle donations, because ALL charities can use cash.

Q: Are there different goods I could contribute aside from vehicles?

Almost everything which has value or can be sold for almost any amount of money, will be accepted by most charities. Lawn mowers, ATVs (all terrain vehicles) watercraft, airplanes - there's a charitable organization which will take them. And they understand how to squeeze as much money from them for their charitable causes as possible.

Some non profit organizations, like the Salvation Army, will accept clothing, household furniture, books - anything that you might find in a yardsale. But needless to say, you can always donate money. This eliminates all the charities' complications associated with trying to transform old yard sale junk into money.

Q: Where can I find out more information regarding goodwill auto donations?

There are a number of established car donation charities that are not only legitimate, but make it simple for you to donate your old car or truck. You can call 1-800-Charity-Cars to find neighborhood charities in your town that take old cars. You could also search the web. There are tons of web sites dedicated to vehicle donations.

Several online vehicle donation web sites offer you bonuses for your donation, such as Disney Park passes. This is in addition to the standard tax breaks which you are eligible for. A goodwill automobile donation will get your old auto into the hands of someone who is genuinely in need of assistance. So go ahead and do the right thing: Help somebody less fortunate than yourself while getting a tax deduction - and getting rid of that old vehicle!