Donating Your Car To A Charity In California

There are so many people in California who have old or damaged cars that they are not using and want to find places where they can donate them. Are you someone considering donating your car to a charity in California? Donating your car to a charity in California can be a wonderful decision for several reasons. Some of the cars which are donated can be recycled and used as emergency vehicles while others are sold away. The funds from the sales of these cars can be used to help any cause in the state of California. Here are some of the many benefits of donating your car:

  • The car that you donate may be able to assist a great cause
  • It can be a wonderful way to remove your old car from your property without having to pay anything
  • You will also be able to claim the donation of your car as a tax deduction
  • Regardless of the condition, make, or model of your car, the charitable organization will be able to accept your car and make some good use of it (sometimes unusable cars will be auctioned off or sold for parts)

What do I need before I can donate my car?

When you donate your car to charity you will receive a tax break, which is based on the value of your car. However, before you donate your car in California, there are some things that you must consider. Some of them, which specifically relate to the car donations in California are:

  • You must have the title of your car before you consider donating it (you will be required to hand this document over to the organization).
  • With your title in hand, start looking for an organization in California that you think would be the best recipient for your vehicle and find out if they accept car donations. You should verify that the charity is properly registered as a 501(c)(3) organization (per IRS standards) by confirming with the organization and/or the IRS. Also, find out if the organization you are giving your car to is the charity itself or a broker. If possible, avoid giving your car to a broker since they will liquidate your car and give you credit for only a portion of what the charity receives from the sale.

What steps do I follow to go through the donation process?

To donate your car in California, start by contacting the charitable organization that you wish to donate your car to. In case you would like to claim your car donation as a tax deduction, you have to confirm that the charity is recognized by the IRS as a non-profit organization (a 501(c)(3), as mentioned above).

The process for receiving the tax receipt for your donation may vary depending on the organization’s terms and conditions. Some charities will have the towing service give you the receipt when they are picking up your car while others will email you the initial receipt. This receipt will enable you to claim the tax deduction of an assigned amount, not more than $500. It is strongly recommended that you research and understand how the charity you are making your donation to handles this process before you consider making your donation.

In case your car qualifies for fair market value or sells for more than $500, you will be eligible to claim an increased tax deduction after the sale of the car takes place. The amount of money that you will be allowed to deduct when filing your tax return can vary depending on some factors such as the prices for which the car is sold.

Is there anything else to worry about?

In California, the license plates will remain with the car; therefore they should not be removed before the charity picks up the car from your property.

Another important step that you must not miss when donating your car is filing the release of liability at the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This document will release you from any kind of liability which may arise in the future, after the car has been donated. To complete this process, complete Form REG 138 and submit it or the pink portion of the car title to the local Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are unable to do this, you can also file online for the release of your liability at Do not wait too long if you opt to take care of this process after-the-fact.