Why VEHICLES for CHANGE: DONATING Cars to Charity

Donor Image-01.pngOnce you've decided to donate your unwanted vehicle, it’s time to take the next step: deciding whom to donate to. When it comes to donating cars to charity, Vehicles for Change is the organization that does the most good. Donors and recipients of vehicles both benefit hugely from donated cars, and the community does as well.

Tax Benefits at Vehicles for Change

Often, it's self-interest that gets people motivated to get rid of the old car collecting dust in the driveway or garage, and there are many options for what to do with an unwanted vehicle, be it a car, truck, SVU, motorcycle, or even a boat or RV. With new federal rules on tax deductions for donated cars, many people are under the impression that donating cars to charity always means a financial loss. When it comes to donating to Vehicles for Change, this couldn't be further from the truth.

The tax deductions you gain from your donated vehicle depend on several factors. Of primary concern is the vehicle's condition. If your vehicle is in poor condition and it doesn't make financial sense for the Vehicles for Change technicians to fix it up, this doesn't mean it can't be donated – or you can't be eligible for tax deductions. For vehicles that can't be repaired to full working order, you gain the resale value as a tax deduction.

If your donated vehicle is basically in good condition but needs some major repair work, like replacing the transmission, you can get an even better deal. You can deduct the vehicle's fair market value, minus the estimated cost of the repairs. Vehicles for Change provides this estimate.

If your vehicle is a luxury vehicle or can be repaired for under $1000 to provide at least two years of reliable service, you stand to have a substantial tax advantage. For luxury cars, you can deduct the selling price, which is typically close to fair market value. For cars offering 2 years of reliable service, you can deduct the full fair market value.

Most cars eligible for this larger deduction tend to be 10 to 12 years old and have less than 150,000 miles on them. To determine your car's fair market value when donating cars to charity, try the Kelley Blue Book.

The tax advantages offered by Vehicles for Change are unmatched by most charities. This is because of what the organization does with the donated vehicles.

Where Your Car Goes after Donation

Most charities accept donated cars, but because Vehicles for Change does not sell the cars for profit, it can offer impressive tax benefits. The cars Vehicles for Change receives are given to needy families.

Vehicles for Change does sell some cars. Cars that can't be fixed up without a financial loss are auctioned off to one of the charity's partners, typically starting at a reasonable minimum bid. Luxury cars usually aren't practical for lower-income families, as they typically have special repair or maintenance needs that tend to be expensive. If you're donating cars to charity that are luxury vehicles, they are sold to Freedom Wheels. Freedom Wheels is a non-profit subsidiary of Vehicles for Change. Cars requiring big repairs are also sold to Freedom Wheels.

Whenever a car is auctioned or sold, the proceeds go toward fixing more cars to give to low-income families. When you donate a car that can be repaired for under $1000 and can provide at least 2 years of service reliably, this vehicle is awarded to a family in need.

Vehicles for Change offers a unique approach to car donation. This gives the donor the best possible tax advantages and changes the lives of needy families.

What Vehicles Are Eligible for Donation?

Vehicles for Change is located in Maryland. Most cars, trucks, and SUVs in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Detroit are accepted. Cars from across the country can also be donated for pickup by Vehicles for Change. RVs, motorcycles, and boats are considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you think your vehicle is eligible for donation, chances are Vehicles for Change will accept it. For answers to questions about donating cars to charity, contact Vehicles for Change.

A Quick and Simple Process

Even though cars are a big ticket item, donating them to charity is a very simple process that includes the following steps:

  1. Complete the official documentation; requirements vary by state. Typically, the main document required to donate a car is the title. The original title must be filled out to transfer ownership to Vehicles for Change. There are two lines on the car's title to fill out: “seller” and “buyer.” Under “seller,” print and sign your name. If another person's name is on the title, he or she must also print and sign. Under “buyer,” write “Vehicles for Change.”

 Be sure to keep a copy of the title for your records, and be careful to fill it out correctly. The DMV will not accept a document that is scribbled on or has white-out. If you financed the purchase of your vehicle, you may need to obtain a lien release. This is a hard copy of a letter from the financial institution that helped finance your vehicle. It must be on the institution's letterhead and must state the make, model, year, and VIN of the car as well as confirm you have paid off the vehicle.

  1. Fill out the donation form on Vehicle for Change's website. This form is quite simple and takes less than ten minutes to complete. According to your preference, it can be filled out online or printed out. It asks for basic information about yourself and your vehicle.
  2. Submit the donation form. If you fill out a hard copy, it can be sent via snail mail, email, or fax.
  3. Wait for a confirmation email. This should arrive within 24 hours, or on the next business day.
  4. Schedule a pick-up time. A representative from Vehicles for Change will call you to make a time to meet and pick up the vehicle. This time is usually within 3 business days of the phone call.
  5. Be present for the pickup. Even if the vehicle is not at your house, you must be present for the pickup to give the keys and the title, lien release, and any other relevant information. At this time, you will receive a donation receipt.

You will then receive an official tax receipt in the mail so you can claim the tax deductions from your vehicle donation. The process couldn't be easier.

The Impact a Donated Vehicle Has on a Family recipient image-01.png

If you have always had access to a vehicle, the impact a donated car can have on a family can be difficult to imagine. Many families are kept in poverty for the simple reason they lack the transportation to get to better jobs. Often, parents are overqualified for their current positions, but any opportunities they might have for advancement (both within their current places of employment and outside of them) are limited by their lack of a vehicle.

Public transportation helps, but simple errands take much longer and require more physical exertion on a bus or a train. With most low-income parents working for an hourly wage, this is a big burden. It becomes increasingly difficult when many places in the country simply don't have reliable – or any – public transit.

The Numbers Breakdown of Vehicle Donations

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the impact of donating cars to charity.

Vehicles for Change has given 5,000 vehicles since 1999. This has provided over 20,000 adults and children access to reliable, independent transportation. Within the first year of owning a car, the improvement to quality of life has been enormous for most of these families. 75% of new car owners have fewer absences from work. 75% also increased their earnings in their current jobs or moved on to higher paying jobs within that first year, for a total average yearly increase in earnings of $7,000.

This financial stability and independence gave significant quality of life enhancements to many of these families. In the area of healthcare, 98% reported they were able to take their children to see a doctor. An amazing 93% reported reduced stress levels. Considering the impact stress can have on health, this change is incredible.

On average, the daily commute to work by new car owners was cut by 90 minutes. This free time and the independence of owning a car offered many opportunities. A full 100% of recipients took their children to after school activities. 55% volunteered in their communities, and 75% were able to attend religious services.

A car can truly change the lives of needy families.

Donating Cars to Charity: Just the Beginning

Vehicles for Change knows donating cars to charity is just the beginning. That's why the organization offers other opportunities for lower-income families to help themselves out of poverty. The Center for Automotive Careers is a training program for unemployed and underemployed people, preparing them for jobs in automotive services. Today, the center offers a training program in automotive detail. By the end of the year, the program hopes to offer paid internships for training as auto technicians for people recently released from prison.

Those who successfully complete training in the detail program are given a month long paid opportunity to work at Vehicles for Change. The organization helps with job placement after the end of the program.

To be enrolled in the program, prospective students must complete or be about to complete an accepted job readiness training program. They must have a current resume, a case manager, and proof of citizenship. There are a few other requirements, but they do not include a high school diploma, GED, or driver's license. Vehicles for Change wants to help the people who need help most, without being overly restricting on the opportunities.

By allowing people to purchase donated vehicles at an affordable price and participate in training programs, Vehicles for Change helps people help themselves. Too many charities are about one-time donations that ultimately leave people where they started when the money runs out. By donating cars to charity, you're giving people a future.

Giving Back to the Local Community

Donating cars to charity offers great tax benefits,but it also gives donors a chance to be a part of their communities. By helping those in need, you become a part of the community that helped you achieve the success you have today, in one way or another. A car gathering dust in your garage helps nobody.

By donating cars to charity, you offer a concrete improvement to people's lives. This improvement is a lasting one, and it often spans generations. With access to better jobs and opportunities, parents are able to offer more time to their children – an important component to a happier life. Consider donating to Vehicles for Change to make a difference in your community.