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Donating a car
Old 07-28-2008, 08:16 PM   #1
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Donating a car

We just finished donating our car to charity through Auto-Donation.com which will handle all the paperwork & liaison to help you get rid of your vehicle. They work with a number of charities so that your donation helps one of your choice. I think it's far better than trying to sell a clunker.

Our '94 Ford Taurus only had ~113K miles on it, and a lot of rebuilt engine/transmission parts, but it only got 19 mpg. When we bought our used Toyota Prius (>50 mpg) the Taurus began to look pretty sad. The car would probably have run for another five years as long as we didn't care about anything that was plastic, upholstery, dashboard, body trim, air conditioning, ventilation, or any other auxiliary equipment.

Edmunds & Kelly swore that the car was worth at least $1200, and we could probably have cleared $750-$995 by Craigslist. But I would've felt bad about selling the car to a hopeful teenager with a limited budget, and you get a lot of whackos at that used-car price point. Oh, and the cruise control didn't work and was of the same model that Ford had recalled for bursting into flames. But Ford swears that year/model wasn't part of the recall. Let's just say that I didn't want to wonder if my umbrella liability policy would include coverage for flaming lemons.

Auto-Donation's website screens cars by VIN and will take just about anything, running or not, although presumably even they have their limits. We filled out the online form, mailed it off (to Clinton ME, of all places) with the title signed over to them, and got a call a few days later from the local towing company. Five hours later the car was gone.

We were told that our deduction amount was limited until they auctioned the car. (Some of you may remember that car donations were subject to widespread deduction abuse a few years ago, so the IRS has considerably tightened up the procedure.) Today we got the tax receipt certifying that it went for $600 at auction. SUCKERS!! Good deal. Painless. Highly recommended.

The last used car we sold (a '90 Honda Civic) was on the road until at least 2007. It'll be interesting to watch for our Taurus around the island, but it's probably been stripped for parts...

In 750 days (when our kid goes to college) we'll probably get rid of our '97 Nissan Altima through these guys too. It's been banged up (it was attacked by a vicious guardrail) and I'd hate to try to sell a car with that type of record, too.
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:27 PM   #2
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We donated our ( Don't get excited ) 1987 Jaguar . It was a pretty painless procedure . They came and took the car and at tax time I just entered the book value ( This was before the new rules ) and got the deduction . I would definetely do it again.
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:49 PM   #3
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We were told that our deduction amount was limited until they auctioned the car. (Some of you may remember that car donations were subject to widespread deduction abuse a few years ago, so the IRS has considerably tightened up the procedure.) Today we got the tax receipt certifying that it went for $600 at auction. SUCKERS!! Good deal. Painless. Highly recommended.
Nords, while I applaud your donation (and would encourage others to follow your path should they be so inclined), I wanted to point out that your donation only brought you the $600 multiplied by your tax rate....for most....15% x $600 = $90 (plus state tax savings)....and that you could have just as easily made a needy individual very happy by increasing your take 2-3 fold....and still giving them a cheap ride and possibly the "deal of a lifetime"....

I only point it out here because so many may still believe that a car donation's value is based on Blue Book value.....
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:52 PM   #4
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The pain free way to get rid of the old clunker. We had a Ford Escort (91 or there abouts) that we ran into the ground. We donated it to the Salvation Army. They came and towed it away and handled all of the paperwork. We were mailed a tax receipt following the auction. Before that we donated DH Pontiac (can't remember the make) same deal. Could not be easier.
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:06 AM   #5
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Nords, while I applaud your donation (and would encourage others to follow your path should they be so inclined), I wanted to point out that your donation only brought you the $600 multiplied by your tax rate....for most....15% x $600 = $90 (plus state tax savings)....and that you could have just as easily made a needy individual very happy by increasing your take 2-3 fold....and still giving them a cheap ride and possibly the "deal of a lifetime"....
I only point it out here because so many may still believe that a car donation's value is based on Blue Book value.....
Well, this year it's gonna be a bit more than that, but you're missing my point. It's not about the money. I avoided having to deal with people who were totally unready to own a car that would soon become a "mechanic's special"... or totally unready to figure out how to buy the car.

I'd feel pretty bad if that "needy individual" bought the car and had a failure of some engine or A/C part just a few weeks later. (Yes, I've seen more than one of those types of people try to nurse their clunkers or ride the bus until their next paychecks.) I'd feel even worse if they felt obligated to complain or litigate, and at this point in my life I'm pretty averse to liability.

Saving $90 on my taxes is worth far more than the time/hassle it takes to clear a 14-year-old car with the typical Craiglist customer attracted to that type of listing. I didn't have to deal with phone calls at all hours, missed appointments, test drives, "negotiations",... the whole schlemiel.

The clunker pros don't shop for cars on Craigslist, they go to auctions. I kept the car out of the landfill, it was sold to someone who either knows exactly what they're getting into or who can't blame me for their ignorance, and it took less than an hour of my time. I'm pretty sure that earning 2-3x that $90 would involve far more frustration... although it'd certainly give me a lot of life experiences and material for quite a few posts.

Goodwill presumably earned a large fraction of that $600 auction price and would be able to help needy people better than if I realized that 2-3 fold multiple and donated the cash directly to them.
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Old 07-29-2008, 03:48 PM   #6
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Back in '89, I donated an '73 MG. They came and took it away and I got to deduct BB value.
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:02 PM   #7
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Goodwill presumably earned a large fraction of that $600 auction price and would be able to help needy people better than if I realized that 2-3 fold multiple and donated the cash directly to them.
Not sure that is the case. We looked into it for our non-profit and very little and sometimes nothing goes to the charity. The organizations that do this charge for the "service" of taking the car, processing etc and by the end most cars are worth little to nil. However, some of the larger, more recognized charities still do it because of their name power, it is a blip on their revenue side...while for others, it's not worth the effort.
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:50 PM   #8
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Not sure that is the case. We looked into it for our non-profit and very little and sometimes nothing goes to the charity. The organizations that do this charge for the "service" of taking the car, processing etc and by the end most cars are worth little to nil.
Yep, I've been wondering how to figure that out.
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