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Suggestions for donating cars to charity

October 03, 2004

The Internal Revenue Service and the American Institute of Philanthropy have suggestions for people donating cars to charity.

- Make sure a charity is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Check www.irs.gov/eo or call the IRS Customer Account Services division at 877-829-5500. At the state level, try the state attorney general or secretary of state.

- Take pictures of the car and save receipts for new tires or other upgrades.

- Remove the license plates and notify the state motor vehicles office that the registration should not be in your name.

- Document the value of the car and keep records of it. Use the fair market value. The Kelley Blue Book, the Hearst Black Book or a National Auto Dealers Association guide might help, but don't ignore the cost of needed repairs.

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- Get a receipt from the charity.

- For cars worth $5,000 or more, a written appraisal is required.

- The only way to claim a tax deduction is to itemize deductions on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040. If the car is worth more than $500, attach IRS Form 8283 to your tax return. If the car is worth $250 or more, the donor must obtain a written acknowledgment from the charity.

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