How Does Donating a Car Affect My Taxes?

by Mark Kennan ; Updated July 27, 2017

Donating a car to charity can be a hassle-free way to get rid of a vehicle you no longer need. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to claim the donation on your income taxes as long as you give the vehicle to a qualified charitable organization. Knowing how donating a car will affect your taxes will help you decide if that is the best option for you.

Must Itemize

Donating your car counts as a charitable donation. The IRS only allows you to deduct charitable donations on your income taxes if you forgo the standard deduction and claim the itemized deductions. If the value of your car donation and any other itemized deductions does not exceed the value of your standard deduction, donating the car will have no impact on your taxes because you will not be able to claim a deduction for the value of your car if you claim the standard deduction.

Valuing Your Car Donation

The IRS values your car differently if your charity sells the vehicle rather than uses the vehicle. If the charity keeps your vehicle, you can deduct the fair market value. You can also deduct the fair market value of your car if the charity intentionally sells it below market value to a person in need as part of the charity's work. However, if the charity sells the vehicle, you can only deduct the amount the car is sold for.

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Tax Savings

The tax savings you receive from donating your car to charity depends on your income tax rate. Because the federal government uses a progressive income tax structure, people pay different income tax rates depending on their taxable income and their filing status. Thus the amount of the deduction varies for a donated car. To find your savings, multiply the amount of the donation by your income tax rate. For example, if you claim a $9,200 deduction for your car and you fall in the 33 percent tax rate, multiply $9,200 by 0.33 to find that your donation saves you $3,036.

Additional Forms to File With Taxes

When you file your income taxes, you have to use Form 1040 for your tax return and Schedule A for your itemized deductions. On Schedule A, report the amount of your car donation on line 17. If your deduction for your donated car exceeds $500, you must attach Form 8283. For donations of more than $500 up to $5,000, complete Section A of Form 8283. For donations valued more than $5,000, complete Section B of Form 8283.

About the Author

Based in the Kansas City area, Mike specializes in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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