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Donating a Classic Car to Charity

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Donating a Classic Car to Charity

Couple driving a classic car to donate to charity

Disclaimer: Informational Content Notice

This content is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial or tax advice. Decisions involving significant assets like classic cars require expert guidance. We recommend consulting with a qualified tax professional or financial advisor for personalized advice. The information provided here is general in nature and may not be up-to-date with the latest legal or financial developments. By reading this, you acknowledge that Woodside Credit and the authors are not liable for decisions made based on this information.

Donating a classic car to charity can be both fulfilling and beneficial in terms of tax deductions. Understanding the tax implications and requirements is crucial for maximizing this charitable act. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Tax Deduction Limits

  1. Sales Price Limitation: Under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, the tax deduction for donating a classic car is typically limited to the actual sales price of the vehicle when sold by the charity. This means that if the charity sells your donated car, your tax deduction is capped at the selling price, rather than the car’s estimated market value.
  2. Fair Market Value Deduction: In certain scenarios, you can claim a deduction for the car’s fair market value. This is applicable if the charity significantly uses the car for its operations, makes material improvements to it, or donates or sells it at a below-market price to an individual in need.
  3. $500 Limit for Lower Value Sales: If your donated classic car sells for less than $500, the IRS allows you to deduct either $500 or the car’s fair market value, whichever is less. This rule offers some flexibility for donors whose vehicles may not fetch high sales prices. Resources like TurboTax provide easy-to-use tools and guidance for accurately reporting such donations on your tax returns. They help in calculating and determining the appropriate deduction amount based on the sale price of the car. Additionally, organizations such as Wheels for Wishes, which specialize in car donations, often sell donated vehicles at auction. Understanding their process can give you a clearer picture of how the sales price might impact your tax deduction, especially in cases where the car sells for less than $500.
Inside of a classic car with a view of an old steering wheel

Documentation and Reporting

  1. Receipts and Acknowledgements: Upon donation, ensure that you receive a written acknowledgment from the charity. This should include details about the car and a statement of whether the charity provided any goods or services in exchange for the car.
  2. Appraisals: For deductions based on the fair market value, especially if it exceeds $5,000, an independent appraisal may be necessary to substantiate the claimed value of the car.
  3. Form 1098-C: If your deduction exceeds $500, the charity is required to provide you with a Form 1098-C, or a similar statement, within 30 days of the sale of the vehicle. This form is crucial for your tax records.
  4. Reporting Obligations: Charities must report the details of the vehicle donation to the IRS.
Classic chevrolet bel air in green color

Other Tips for Donors

  1. Choose a Qualified Charity: Do your due diligence to ensure that the charity is qualified and recognized by the IRS in order for your donation to be tax-deductible. Additionally, it is always a good idea to research the charity’s mission and how it uses donated vehicles.
  2. Understand Fair Market Value: Determine your car’s fair market value using reputable sources. is a great place to start.
  3. Consider State Laws: Be aware of any specific state laws and regulations that may affect car donations and tax deductions in your area. We suggest you consult with a professional in your area.
  4. Tax Filing: When filing taxes, itemize your deductions to claim the benefit of your car donation. This requires filing Form 1040 and attaching Schedule A.
  5. Keep Records: Maintain thorough records of the donation.
  6. Consult a Tax Professional: Consider professional advice for complex tax situations, especially for high-value donations.
rear quarter panel of a red Ford thunderbird


  • Can I donate a non-running classic car? Yes, many charities accept non-running cars, but this may affect the value of your tax deduction.
  • How do I determine the fair market value of my classic car? Use valuation guides, appraisals, or other reputable sources like
  • What if the charity sells my donated car for less than $500? You can deduct the lesser of $500 or the car’s fair market value.
  • Is it mandatory to obtain a written acknowledgment from the charity? Yes, it is mandatory to claim a deduction.


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