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Picking a Charity for Car Donations

Do your homework before choosing a charity organization

Charitable donations are always a worthy cause, but it’s not always as simple as walking into the local Goodwill and dropping off a box of old dishes. Donating a car can be a fantastic way to help someone in need and get a substantial tax write off as well. The problem is that there are so many charities out there that it can be hard to figure out where to start. Here are a few things to remember when picking a charity for your donation.

What is 501(3)(c) and why is it important when determining which charity you wish to donate to?

501(3)(c) is the most common classification for non-profit organizations that are exempt from paying federal income tax.  It is a fairly broad classification, though, and covers religious, scientific, educational, and literary organizations, as well as those that provide testing for public safety and prevent cruelty to animals and/or children.

Common examples include:

  • Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • Boy’s and/or Girls Clubs of America
  • PTAs (Parent/ Teacher Associations)
  • Charities
  • Churches
  • Hospitals
  • Schools.

Keep this in mind when choosing your charity.  We’ll explain why in a moment.

Is it Tax Deductable?

Not all of your donations are going to be tax deductable.  This is where determining the 501(3)(c) status of your chosen charity will become essential.  The charity of your choice must be a qualified organization, as defined by the IRS.
Most of these qualifying organizations will be listed in IRS Publication 78, which can be accessed through their website ( or by calling the IRS Division for Tax Exempt and Government Entities (877-829-5500).

You may not be able to find all of the organizations in question here, though. While religious organizations are required to register with the IRS, churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues are not required to apply for 501(3)(c) stats and as such are often not even listed in Publication 78.  If you want to donate your car to a church, but cannot find them on Publication 78, call the toll-free customer support number to have all of your questions answered before completing your donation.

Other Resources

The IRS has a variety of resources available to help you determine the eligibility of your donation.  IRS Publication 526, titled Charitable Donations, contains tons of information about the limitations on charitable deductions. This information and more is available for access online at, or through the toll-free customer service phone number.

Determining your potential deduction, and whether or not you are eligible for a deduction at all, is not something that should be taken lightly.  If you have any questions, even after consulting the information provided by the IRS, then you should consult with a tax professional or professional accountant. They will have the information and experience necessary to determine without doubt whether your charitable donation is in your best interest and the best interests of the origination that it is being donated too.

There are still some other pieces of information to consider which will be discussed in later articles.

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