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Thursday, December 20, 2012

How To: Donate Your Car To A Good Cause

Child Quest is grateful for your car vehicle donation, but make sure you follow the rules to claim a tax deduction for it.

Donating your car can be a great benefit to a charity – and your tax return. A vehicle donation is worth a tax deduction of at least a $500, and since Child Quest International (CQI) accepts vehicles in any condition (with FREE pick-up!), the tax break can even be worthwhile for weather-battered clunkers.

“We take all vehicles, whether they run or not. They all benefit the charity in some way or another,” said Michael Irwin, a car donation specialist for Cars For Children, which administers the vehicle donation programs for CQI around the country. “We take a lot of vehicles in fair condition, but we also take cars that are not,” he said.

So even if your vehicle is marred by rust, idled by a blown engine or flat tires, you can find value in it by making it a charitable donation. In the case of operational vehicles, donating them can take the hassle out of trying to sell them.

Money from the sales of donated vehicles goes to fund the various programs run by CQI to help protect children, locate those missing, and reunite loved ones. These services are provided free of charge to searching families who otherwise would not have the support and advocacy needed in the ongoing effort to find their missing child.

Cars For Children vehicle donation program is one of the main fund raisers that help CQI provide services to clients that may otherwise fall through the cracks of the “system.” Without this financial support, many of CQI’s programs would not be available to left-behind families. These donations really are keeping hope alive,” said Anthony Gonzalez, Director of Service Programs at CQI.

“We provide a great deal of help to the overall effort,” Irwin said.

If you’re considering making a donation, experts said you also shouldn’t be deterred by the donation process.

“There really aren’t a lot of guidelines and restrictions,” Irwin said. However, to maximize the benefit for the charity and yourself, there are few things to keep in mind:

December is decision time. Donations must be made by Dec. 31 for you to make use of any tax benefit next April. A little planning will not only mean a greater tax deduction but a better chance your old car will be put to good use. It also means you have the time to properly sever your car insurance and registration.

Select an approved charity -- Make sure you’re donating to a 501(c)(3) charitable organization if you want a tax deduction. Child Quest International is a IRS-recognized 501(c)(3).

Educate yourself on car donations - Consult IRS Publication 4303, "A Donor's Guide to Vehicle Donations," for additional details on car donations, calculating vehicle value, and tax-deductible benefits.   

  • Example: A vehicle that is resold for cash is deductible only on the sale price of the car, rather than its fair market value. If the charity gets only $800 for your $2,500 Ford, you can deduct only the $800.

Get a receipt from the charity. The charity is required to send a notice of sale within 30 days advising you of the car's sales price. CQI will provide all documentation accordingly.

Terminate your registration and insurance coverage. Don't just sign the title over and let your insurance and registration lapse. Avoid liability by signing over the registration to the charity yourself. That way you’re sure the car won’t remain in your name, which could leave you on the hook with the state Department of Motor Vehicles for fees or even with law enforcement if the car is later used in a crime.

The state may see in its records that you have a car still registered that is without insurance and penalize you for that. If the vehicle is in a crash or impounded, as legal owner you are going to be looked at.

If you’d like to make a donation to Cars For Children in support of Child Quest International or obtain more information on donating, call 866-617-2977 or visit us at For more information on Child Quest International and our programs, please visit our website or call 888-818-HOPE or visit

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  1. hi,
    nice post!!!donation of car for charity is very common to do today. People who have old and unused cars can decide to donate their cars to a special foundation which takes care of car donation program. Car donation program is a special donation program which is aimed to help providing shelter, school, medication, and food for underprivileged people.

  2. hi,
    Car donation for a charity is considered a high charitable deed especially in United States. It has become very population because it provides some sort of benefit taxes to charity organizations all over United States.Car donation is a very simple work because now we can donate our car online and donation organization will come and will bring your car. So its very easy to Donate your car and help to needy

  3. I found your blog using Yahoo and I must say this is one of the most informative blogs I have read in a while. I will make sure I come back to read your future posts.

  4. I just recently donated a car to charity for the first time. I didn't think that it would be so easy, they even came to tow my car away for free! Not only did I feel good about donating my car, but I got a great tax deduction too!

  5. Great post! More people should think about donating their old or/and unusable vehicle for charity. Moreover, there are tax reductions benefits and trustworthy organizations which we can rely on when it comes to giving the profit from the sale/scrap for a good cause.

  6. Some of the charities don’t accept the car donations. If the charity that you support doesn’t accept cars, then spare some time and search for more reputed charities either by online or personally contacting the charities. Try to help those charities which are in urgent need of cars or money.

  7. It is important to get proper information about the process of donating car to charity. One of the vital requirements is to choose a credible charity that helps those in need. Next, it is crucial to search for the title of your car and related documents as the charity will ask for it. The process is actually very simple; with little information all the car owners can make a contribution at some point in their lives.

  8. It is an unusual charity program which is really innovative. I think people should think of donating old cars instead scrapping. It can reduce the hassles that occur while scrapping or selling used cars.

  9. It certainly is a great idea and worthwhile scheme, however when times are hard as they still are donations do trend to slow down as money can tend to get very tight.

  10. If we value the work that charities do and the effective organizations, then we need to value those people who take that responsibility on their shoulders. Thanks for doing great job
    Joseph Levinson CPA

    1. Thank you for your kind words and support. We all play a part in protecting our youth.

  11. Car donation in Canada is a well known method of giving your old car to charity, Thanks for sharing this great write up. I have purchased a new car and I am planning to donate my old car to charity and i visit www.donatecar.cathis is a great site to online donate cars, everyone should visit this website