Community Foundation of New Jersey

Donating Cars Wisely

Many of us have seen the billboards and heard the radio ads about donating a used car. Some of us have also read newspaper and magazine articles that talk about the “scam” operations that have accompanied some of the car-donation organizations. Some of these scams might result in the ineligibility of the donation for income taxes, or an unnecessary liability to the original owner because the title was never transferred properly.

Donors should be wary of organizations that will not arrange for the title transfer, use a flat-fee structure to pay the third-party broker, or tell you that you can deduct the appraised value of the vehicle. Tax laws only permit the deduction of the actual sale price, unless the charity decides to use the vehicle for its own purposes. In addition, donors should find out what percentage of the proceeds will actually benefit the organization, and verify that the charity is a legitimate, tax-exempt organization.

There are positive ways available to donate a car that will provide you with both a valuable tax deduction, and the knowledge that you helped out a deserving non-profit organization. In the Morris County area, two examples of legitimate and worth-while organizations that accept car donations are:

The Market Street Mission in Morristown will pick up your still-working auto right at your home. The Mission does not use an outside agent, so it will sell the car on its own and keep 100% of the proceeds. You will receive a giving statement from the Mission for the full amount of the sale price. You will also help support a far-reaching program that ministers to the homeless, helpless and hopeless in Northern New Jersey by meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Call 973.538.0431 or visit their website for more information.

If your car absolutely will not work, Habitat for Humanity of Morris County uses an outside agency that will pick up and sell non-working autos. Habitat will keep 82% of the sale proceeds and the agency, Cars for Home, will keep 18%. You can deduct 100% of the sales price as Habitat will provide you with a giving statement after the sale. You also get the benefit of knowing that you are supporting an organization that enhances the lives of hardworking, low-income families while you are getting rid of that old clunker in your driveway. Call Cars for Home at 877.277.4344 or visit their website for more information.

Please contact Nancy Magee at 973.267.5533or email if you would like us to research a specific car donation program or charitable organization in your area.