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Car Donation Information: Top 5 Misconceptions about Vehicle Donations

Closeup of a Red Sports Car | Goodwill Car Donations Photo by Ryan Collis under Pexels License

Top 5 Misconceptions about Vehicle Donations

Thinking about giving away your old car or truck? Confused about the process?

You’re not alone.

The truth is, there are plenty of misconceptions relating to car donation information. From not knowing how to spot a legitimate charity to mistakenly thinking that only traditional cars can be donated, false ideas are everywhere.

How can you know what to believe? Where is the accurate vehicle donation information?

To help answer that question, here’s a look at some of the most common misunderstandings, along with what’s actually true.

Myth 1. It’s Smarter to Sell My Old Car than to Donate It.

This is a tricky one because it really depends. On one hand, selling or trading in your car might give you some financial benefit; on the other hand, if your car ends up being worth less than $1000, it’s probably more hassle than it’s worth.

Many times, donating your car will provide far more value to a deserving nonprofit than what you could hope to receive from selling it, particularly if it’s an old car.

Myth 2. My Car Has to Be Running to Be Donated.

This one would make sense if the car itself were going to needy families, but, most charities will auction the car or salvage it for parts to sell. Then, the proceeds are what go to funding the important programs and services the nonprofit provides.

This means it doesn’t matter if the originally donated car is running or not running in the first place. Just because your clunker in the garage hasn’t been operable for a while doesn’t mean it can’t be a prime candidate for donation. Most likely, it’s a perfect fit!

Myth 3. The Only Vehicles to Donate are Cars or Trucks.

When you think of vehicle donation, you probably think of giving away a car, an SUV, a van or a truck — in other words, a traditional vehicle.

However, most nonprofits will take all kinds of vehicles, as long as they have keys and an engine. This means you can give away RVs, trailers, pop-up campers, jet skis, motorcycles, airplanes and more!

Myth 4. All Charities Are the Same.

Once you find a charity that takes cars, you might think you’re all set. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fraudulent charities out there today, as well as charities that don’t give as much of sale proceeds to the needy as you might like.

In order to know if you’ve found a legitimately trustworthy nonprofit organization, it’s important to verify their status.

You can go to the website of your state’s Attorney General’s office (or, in some cases, the Secretary of State’s office), find the section called “Steps for Each State” and locate direct links for screening charities.

By doing your due diligence, you’ll know the exact impact of your donation.

Myth 5. I Can Deduct What I Think my Car Was Worth from my Taxes.

Giving away your vehicle does help you qualify for a tax deduction, but the amount is not a straight one-to-one in terms of its perceived value. Basically, it all comes down to sale price.

If the vehicle ends up selling for less than $500, you can use your pickup receipt as documentation to deduct the fair market value. If the vehicle sells for more than $500, you need specific documentation that verifies this sale in order to deduct the full selling price of the vehicle.

When you’re ready to get rid of your old vehicle, why not put it into the hands of a nonprofit that can use it for good? You’ll not only get rid of something you aren’t using and have a potential tax benefit, but you’ll also make a real difference to someone who needs it.

Volkswagen Golf Mk2 Parked Near the Trees | Goodwill Car Donations Photo by Borta under Pexels License

Contact us at Goodwill Car Donation to get more car donation information and/or to start the process of donating your vehicle!


Last Updated: February 28th, 2023