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Donating a Vehicle

In most instances, a taxpayer must take into account a $500 threshold on vehicular gifts. This value amount applies to autos, boats and even airplanes. When the donated vehicle's value (based on credible fair market value analyses) exceeds that amount, claiming the deduction gets more complicated.

This valuation ceiling comes into play when a charity sells a donated vehicle. In this case, just how much a taxpayer can deduct depends on the amount the sale nets.

For example, you donate your old station wagon that's worth $1,000. Under the old rules, that would be the amount you could deduct. But now, if the charity turns around and sells your donation for $800, your deduction is limited to the lower sales price.

The charity must give you substantiation of the Internal Revenue Service-allowed donation amount within 30 days of when you turn your car over to the charity or, if the group sells the auto, within 30 days of the vehicle's sale.

If you haven't heard from the charity, give it a call and ask that it send, or resend, you the donation specifics. Plus, you now must include a copy of the acknowledgment, IRS Form 1098-C or an IRS acceptable substitute form that is sent to you and copied to the agency, with your tax return. Previously, such documentation was generally only kept by the taxpayer in case the IRS questioned a claimed deduction.

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