Saturday, April 21, 2007

Benefit Charities and Yourself

The Internal Revenue Service allows for many different types of charitable deductions including cash, clothes, goods, and some services. One of the "goods" approved by the IRS that taxpayers may donate is their car. Although the IRS has tightened things up over the past few years, donating a car can benefit a favored charity and help yourself come tax day. Let's take a look at how your car donation can help you and a recognized charity.

Your six year old Buick LeSabre Custom has stood the test of time, but you have decided to buy a 2007 Buick La Crosse Limited to give yourself a car that is new, up to date, and thoroughly reliable. Your LeSabre saw you through long commutes to work, vacations at the shore, and it was the same car your daughter used to learn how to drive. With 140,000 miles on the odometer you know that the trade in value isn't going to be that great, so you consider donating the Buick to a charity such as the kidney foundation or to the association of the blind.

The IRS will reward your generosity if you follow certain ground rules:

--The charity must be recognized by the IRS and have 501(c) 3 status.

--You can only deduct the sale price of the car, not what you think someone might pay for it. Indeed, even though the Buick could possibly fetch more than $5000 if sold privately, you have to list the "gross proceeds" of the resale of the vehicle by the charity. So, if the charity sells your LeSabre for $3700, which is the amount you are allowed to deduct on your income taxes. Your charity of choice will provide written proof of the sale amount to you for your records once the sale has been made.

Just remember if you get to deduct $3700 that doesn't mean your taxes will drop by that amount. Depending on your tax bracket and what you owe the Internal Revenue Service and other deductions, you probably will save yourself a few hundred dollars per year. Of course, your motive for giving should be based in part on helping a charity not just receiving a decent deduction.

So, although the IRS has tightened up the rules concerning donating a car it can still be an important fund raising tool for charities while allowing you to receive a tax deduction and the joy of helping someone out in their time of need.

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