Do you have a junk vehicle? Whether your old car is still running or it's sputtered its last breath and now sits dormant in your garage, it may be time to consider freeing up space by getting rid of it. But you might be asking, "Should I junk my car, or should I donate my car?"
Use this guide to learn everything about donating a vehicle, and, ultimately, to help you decide whether you're better off using a cash for junk car buyer.
Let's get started!
The Majority Of Donated Cars Are Junk Cars
Although all kinds of cars are accepted by charitable organizations, the majority of the vehicles donated are junk cars. Most of the time, people opt to sell their functioning vehicles for their financial gain, probably to fund their next car. However, a person with a stalled car will be more willing to issue it for donation.
When the car finally gets to your preferred charity, the organization will junk it. They can also sell it at auction but under the company’s name. The rest of the donated vehicles, if they're drivable, will be sold below their market price or contributed to the needy. Finally, other functioning cars remain in the organization for use in their daily operations such as doing deliveries or transporting volunteers.
Junking vs. Donating a Car: Quick Comparison
Junking and donating cars are the two most popular methods for getting rid of your old vehicle. What's the difference between the two methods? What's the difference, if any, for your wallet?
Junking vs. Donating a Car: Similarities
These two methods accomplish the same goal at their most basic level: they do away with your unwanted vehicle, freeing your life and space for a new car.
Junking a car and donating a car are also both tried and true methods for getting rid of your junker, and the proof will be in the pudding: both junking and donating allow you to influence your finances positively.
Do you have a car that doesn't run? Both junking a car and donating a car will allow you to do away with this glorified mass of metal. In a lot of situations, both charities and junkyards will pick up your junk car from home for free.
The fate of your old car in both junking and donating will also likely be the same: if it doesn't run, it will be stripped for parts, and the scrap metal will be recycled and sent back into the automobile manufacturing process.
Junking vs. Donating a Car: Differences
What's the difference between junking and donating a car? Though both boost your finances, they do so in different ways.
Donating a car allows you to take a tax deduction while junking a car gives you a cash payout.
Furthermore, donating a car is done with a not-for-profit organization (we'll get into that more later) with a charitable cause. In contrast, junk car deals are done with profit-motivated companies. You can donate a broken car -- that is, many people go about donating a car that doesn't run -- but you can also donate a vehicle that runs perfectly well.
More About Donating a Car
Maybe you've decided to donate your car. This is a great choice! Donating your car helps the less fortunate out while still allowing for a tax deduction for you. But first...
Where Can You Donate Your Car?
Who should I donate my car to? Donating a car is an excellent idea, but you need to be careful that you're dealing with an upright player. Indeed, someone might tell you, "we'll accept your donation," but that doesn't make them a charity! Not only might they end up using your junk car for pure profit, but your tax deduction also won't be valid unless you donate and receive receipts from a certified charity.
One very easy way to make sure you're dealing with a charity is by ensuring their 501 (C) (3) status. A 501 (C) (3) is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, and in fact, this series of letters and numbers designate tax exemption for the IRS. For this reason, the best way to ensure a company is a charity is through the IRS tax-exempt organization search portal.
Another potentially simpler way to find out if a company is a charity is by asking them directly to prove their tax-exempt status. If they're unable to provide this proof, be very wary.
How Can You Donate a Car?
The car donation process is more painless than you might think! Here's how to donate a car:
- Find a charity organization that directly accepts car donations. Avoid the plethora of for-profit company intermediaries accepting "car donations," as they will certainly take a cut from the profits of your junk car, sometimes even a very large cut. Find a nonprofit charity that has a cause you like and arrange with them to take your car.
- Double-check that your charity is a 501 (C) (3). Please do this by asking the company for proof or looking them up on the IRS database.
- Properly sign over your car ownership. Your charity might ask you not to sign over the car by leaving the ownership assignment space blank on the charity donation forms. If they do, seek another charity. It's necessary to sign over your junk car so that you don't incur any fines associated with the hunk of metal in the future.
- Fill out your paperwork properly (IRS info). Non-cash donations are among the most common reasons for an IRS audit, especially when the deductible amount is high, as it likely will be for your junk car. Here are the car donation rules:
- If your car is worth $250 or more, you need written acknowledgment from the donation charity.
- If your car is worth $500 or more, you need to complete IRS Form 8283 section A and attach it to your taxes.
- If your car is worth $5000 or more, you must have an independent appraisal of donation and fill out IRS Form 8283 section B.
What Happens to Your Car When You Donate It?
When you donate a car, the car will almost invariably be sold by the charity as quickly as possible. Depending on whether the donated vehicle is running or not, it may have another life with someone needing a car.
However, more likely than this is that your junk car will be sold to an auto salvage yard, and your car will enter junkyard limbo, where it will be stripped of useful parts, and its metal will be recycled back into the automobile industry.
Is It Worth It To Donate a Car?
It is worth it for a lot of people to donate a car. You can't donate junk cars for cash, but you're able to claim the charitable contribution and deduct it from your taxes: the tax deductible will be exactly equal to the amount your charity can sell the car for at auction. They must give you a written receipt of this transaction for your records.
If the charity decides to use your junk car rather than sell it, you can use Fair Market Value (FMV).
What Are The Downsides of Donating a Car?
Donating a car is a great idea, as it gets rid of your junk car and allows you to feel like you're helping those in need. There are some oft-mentioned downsides. However, that should be brought to the fore here.
For one, the paperwork can be complicated. Sorting through the IRS forms and the sheer anxiety of an audit possibility is just too much hassle for many people.
Secondly, the only financial benefit you get is a tax deduction. For some, junking a car for tax benefits is less appealing than junking a car with a for-profit company that will often pay upfront and with cash.
Most Car Donation Organizations Are Middlemen
Most of the time, donated cars must pass through for-profit organizations before being presented for charity. The agency processing the vehicle donation will deduct their overhead expenses before forwarding the proceeds to charity.
This arrangement comes with its set of challenges. For instance, the middleman substantially cuts the proceeds forwarded to charities. There's also a profound risk of a charity scam. As such, it's essential to look into the company you're donating to.
Pay attention to the following considerations to minimize risk for yourself and maximize the financial perks:
- Only look for organizations with the 501(c)(3) IRS nonprofit status to enjoy tax deductions.
- Choose efficient charity organizations to donate
- Itemize the deductions on your return
- Remember to get and keep a receipt. Your charity organization should provide the document within 30 days after the sale.
- Remember IRS form 8283
- Drop it off by yourself if it's road-worthy to save money
- Take pictures of your vehicle and keep any repairs and work receipts
- Learn more by reading IRS publication 4303
Only Junk Car Donations To Qualified Charities Can Provide A Tax Deduction For You
The last few years have seen significant regulation changes regarding charitable car donations. This leaves room for false information that negatively impacts the act from being a wise financial decision. Let's explore the facts as provided by the IRS.
For the car donation to qualify you for a tax deduction, you must donate it to a tax-exempt organization fitted to receive tax-deductible endowments, as highlighted in IRS section 501(c)(3).
Donors should research adequately to ensure they're donating to an eligible nonprofit organization. When you work with a 501(c)(3) organization, you can be sure of a tax-deductible donation benefit.
If the vehicle's selling price is below $500, you can claim the vehicle's fair market value up to the same amount. But if it sells for over $500, you can claim the precise dollar amount.
Donating your vehicle offers a significant tax benefit with the same value as money in your wallet. Other financial benefits include avoiding the cost of registration, expensive car repairs, selling time and cost, towing, and insurance expenses.
Getting The Maximum Tax Deduction For A Donated Junk Car Is Rare
The maximum fair market value of your vehicle is equal to its tax deduction. The IRS highlights specific conditions for FMV deduction, depending on how the charity intends to use the car. As we previously mentioned, most donated vehicles aren’t roadworthy, so they’re mostly worth less than the market value. That’s why it’s typically tricky to get the maximum tax deduction.
Also check out how to get your neighbor to junk a car.
More About Junking a Car
While donating a car feels good for the soul, donating a car for money doesn't exist. Junking a car will give you cash right away. You can junk any car, from broken to running. You can sell the whole car or sell it for parts.
Where Can You Junk Your Car?
There are plenty of places in the United States to junk your car. Individual junkyards will accept your junk car, or you can try selling your car privately online. You might even consider Craigslist.
There are also larger junk car buyers that operate nationally and buy junk cars all over the United States. Often, these companies can offer better, fairer deals because they have a national reputation to maintain.
Consider Junk Car Medics: we can make fast cash offers and guarantee cash payout within 1-2 days.
What Happens When You Junk Your Car?
Typically, when you junk your car, the fate is the same as when it's donated. It will most likely be stripped for parts, and its metal sent back into the automobile industry to participate again in the great circle of . . . traffic?
Is It Worth It To Junk Your Car?
For many people, junking a car is very much worth it.
At Junk Car Medics, we can give a reasonable, top market cash offer on any junk car. Be warned that if the car is very old or has more than 200,000 miles, you may not be able to get much for it, as very often, when this is the case, the parts are not resellable.
Conclusion: Is It Better to Junk or Donate a Car?
Is it better to scrap a car or donate it? The answer of whether or not to junk or donate falls largely on you. You can't donate your car for cash. If you need cash quickly, it might for all your good intentions be best to junk your car with a place like Junk Car Medics.
On the other hand, if you're happy to wait for the tax write-off and prefer the feeling of having donated to a charitable cause, donating will likely be best for you.
The most important thing is how you feel and make sure you're taking care of your financial situation first. We hope this guide helped.