1- SCHEDULING THE DONATION
1- Read the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) “Donor’s Guide to Vehicle Donation.” If you plan to claim a tax deduction for donating your car, make sure to read this publication ahead of time. It explains all of the IRS regulations regarding the donation of cars and other vehicle, and how to claim a deduction, if applicable.
You can find this form by searching its title on the IRS website.
You may also want to talk to a tax advisor beforehand about your plans to make a vehicle donation.
2- Visit the Salvation Army donation website. Specific information on how to donate a car will vary depending upon your location and the Salvation Army center you will be working with. By visiting the SA donation website, you can enter your ZIP code and find this information.
You can also call the Salvation Army at 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825) to arrange a car donation.
In the US, the SA is divided into four regions, one each for the central, eastern, southern, and western states. Each region provides distinct information for tax purposes.
If your car is subject to a loan, it will most likely have to be settled before the vehicle can be donated. Contact the SA for details.
3- Enter information related to your car. You can begin the process of donating your car online through the Salvation Army donation website, or over the phone. You will need to enter information about your car, including:
- The car vehicle identification number (VIN). This can usually be found at the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side, and in a few other locations (check your car’s owner’s manual for details).
- The car’s manufacturer and model name, year of production, and color
- The current license plate number
- The address on the car's registration
If you have any special notes about the pickup (for example, “beware of dog,” or “garage is in the backyard”), you will have the opportunity to give these as well.
5- Provide your name and home phone number. This information is used by the Salvation Army to verify that you want to donate your car, and to contact you if any more information is needed or if problems arise.
The SA will contact you within 3 business days regarding the pickup.
6- Clean out your car. Wash it, vacuum the inside, and make sure to remove any personal items from the car so that it is ready to be picked up. It's not mandatory, but if you're donating it already, why not do some extra good and make it look nice?
7- Have the Salvation Army pick up your car. The SA will visit your home at the scheduled time to pick up the car. You will turn over the keys and signed title, and SA workers will answer any questions you may have.
8- Receive your tax deductible receipt when the car is picked up. When the Salvation Army comes to pick up your car, they will provide you with a receipt that you can use when filing your taxes in order to receive a deduction. Additional information to be used when filing your taxes will be mailed to you by the SA once your vehicle is sold.
Make sure to record the car’s odometer reading when the SA comes to pick it up. You will need this later to claim your deduction.
2- GETTING YOUR TAX DEDUCTION
1- Read and understand IRS regulations regarding vehicle donations. The IRS monitors vehicle donations to make sure that donors get the right tax benefit, and to prevent fraud. Regulations regarding vehicle donations may change from year to year. You can find the most up-to-date information on the IRS website.
You can reread the regulations concerning vehicle donations in the IRS publication “Donor’s Guide to Vehicle Donation.”
The Salvation Army has also published a legal memorandum on tax exemptions.
Currently, you can only itemize deductions (such as for donating a vehicle) on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.
If you have questions or would like assistance in getting a deduction for donating your vehicle, contact a tax advisor.
2- Determine the sale price of your car. The tax benefit you receive will be based on the amount the Salvation Army sells your car for. Operable vehicles are auctioned each month using the SA’s online car auction, which usually leads to high sale prices. Within 30 days, the SA will mail you information regarding the sale for you to use for tax purposes.
If your vehicle is not operable, the SA will pick it up and mail you information regarding its salvage price within 30 days.
Generally, the IRS will only allow a deduction of the price the car is actually sold for by the Salvation Army. In rare cases, you may be able to deduct the fair market value of the car (for example, if the SA makes repairs or other improvements to the vehicle before selling it).
3- Obtain IRS form 1098-C. This form is used to claim your deduction. You can obtain form 1098-C from the IRS website, a tax advisor, or an automated tax preparation software program. There will be four copies of form 1098-C: one copy will go to the IRS, one to you, one to your records, and one to the donee (the Salvation Army, in this case).
Detailed instructions are included with form 1098-C. Read them and make sure you completely understand them. If you have questions, contact a tax advisor or preparer.
4- Complete form 1098-C and include it with your tax return. If you use automated tax preparation software or a third-party tax preparer, then the form will be submitted for you. If you prepare and send your own tax forms, make sure to include the completed form 1098-C with your return for the year you donate the car. In order to complete form 1098-C, you will need information including:
- Your name, address, and tax ID number
- The make, model, year, VIN, and odometer reading of the car you donated
- The date of the sale (this information will be mailed to you by the Salvation Army)
- The amount the car was sold for (this information will be mailed to you by the Salvation Army)
- A statement on how the car was used for charity (for example, selling it to raise funds for a rehabilitation program). The Salvation Army will provide you information about this, but you can contact them if you have questions.
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