Follow these 5 critical steps so you won't fall victim to scams when looking for a car donation tax deduction.
Looking to donate old cars to a charitable organization for a car donation tax deduction? There are no shortage of charities shouting for your attention! Sadly some of the so-called charities that try to capture your attention on local commercials and TV ads are nothing more than a scam - people who operate highly profitable businesses by abusing loopholes in the IRS regulations regarding tax-deductible vehicle donations. All of them donate a fraction of their profits to charity - they have to in order to keep their status with the IRS. But the percentage they donate to charity can be incredibly low, sometimes as low as 1%. Some even form their own charity and staff it with relatives!
When you want to donate old cars, how do you sift through the endless parade of scams to find the best legitimate charity? Here are 5 key factors that will help you make certain charity vehicle donation helps the people who really need it:
1: Eliminate the middleman
When you donate old cars, donate directly to a charitable organization whenever possible. Questionable car charity donation programs are almost always middlemen happy to take your tax-deductible vehicle donations, sell them, donate a fraction to a non-profit, and bank the rest for “operating costs”. When you deal with a middleman, your donation gets reduced twice, once for the operating costs of the middleman charity vehicle organization, and once for the overhead of the charity. Your contribution goes further when you give a vehicle to a charitable organization that accepts car and truck donations directly, like Volunteers of America Southeast. An average of 88% of donations made to Volunteers of America go to local programs, like helping the homeless in Birmingham, Atlanta and Mobile, permanent senior housing and programs in Jackson and Valdosta, and emergency food and shelter programs in Biloxi and Huntsville.
2: Give your charity a check-up
When you want to donate old cars, finding the smartest charity doesn’t have to be a stab in the dark - the web has a couple of easy ways you can examine any charity you want to get involved with. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start. At bbb.org the Better Business Bureau evaluates charities on 20 Standards of Charity Accountability including the ways charities spend their money, whether the group represents itself honestly, and the organization's willingness to share basic information to the public. Another valuable resource when you are looking to get a charitable car donation tax deduction isGuideStar Exchange, found at guidestar.org. GuideStar's mission is "To revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving." We display the Guidestar and Better Business Bureau seals on all our web pages, which link to their reviews of Volunteers of America.
When you donate old cars to a charity, the bigger slice of your donation that goes into programs that help people, the better. The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t have set standards for the amount that a car donation program has to contribute to charity - some actually give less than 10%. When you're deciding about donating old cars it’s smart to take the time to uncover just what percentage of your donation will actually make it into programs that help people. Reputable charities will offer that information on their website, or in an online copy of their annual report. You can also find that information online through the Better Business Bureau or GuideStar. Volunteers of America puts an average of 88% of all donations to use in life changing programs such as emergency food and shelter, senior housing, job training and youth services for nearly 2 million Americans, including tens of thousands right here in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
4: Look for local impact
If the charity you’re thinking of donating a car to is vague about the programs they offer and where they offer them, it can be a warning signal. If you like the idea of helping people in your community, look for a charity that runs programs in your area or state. When you make tax-deductible vehicle donations programs close to you can provide another plus - you can drop in on the programs you donated to, and see how your donation is making a positive impact. Right here in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama, Volunteers of America Southeast helps 1500 people with intellectual disabilities every day, provides vital disaster relief to tens of thousands, and provides permanent housing to seniors who might otherwise be forgotten.
5: Make sure that the charity is designated as an official 501(c)(3) charity by the IRS
If you want a car donation tax deduction, be certain your donated car or truck goes to a 501(c)(3) charity - an official designation only the Internal Revenue Service can provide. If the car donation program you’re looking into doesn’t have a 501(c)(3) designation, your deduction may be disallowed, and you could end up writing the IRS a check for the taxes you owe, plus interest and penalties. If you want a tax deduction when you donate old cars, donate to an official 501(c)(3) charity.
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Here are 5 crucial ways Volunteers of America Southeast rises above the scammers:
We eliminated the middleman
We don’t donate money to charity – we are the charity. When you donate old cars and trucks to Volunteers of America Southeast, you are donating directly to a respected organization that helps hundreds of thousands of people right here in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.
We pour 88% of all donations into life changing programs
If you want to do the most good with your donation, you’re in the right place.
Volunteers of America Southeast helps thousands right here in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi
We pull together in the Southeast. Whether you Donate old cars in Birmingham, Atlanta, Mobile, Jackson, Valdosta, Biloxi, Huntsville or anywhere else in Mississippi, Georgia or Alabama, you can be certain your donated vehicle is helping people close to home.
5. Volunteers of America Southeast is an official IRS designated 501 (c)(3) charity