2005 Tax Law Changes - Charitable Contributions of Cars, Boats, and Aircraft

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Summary

If you donate a car to a qualified organization after December 31, 2004, your deduction is limited to the gross proceeds from its sale by the organization. This rule applies if the claimed value of the donated vehicle is more than $500. However, if the organization makes significant intervening use of or materially improves the car, you generally can deduct its fair market value.

Boats, aircraft, and other vehicles. These rules also apply to donations of boats, aircraft, and any vehicle manufactured mainly for use on public streets, roads, and highways.

Acknowledgement required. If the claimed value of the car is more than $500, you must have a written acknowledgement of your donation from the organization and must attach it to your return. If you do not have an acknowledgement, you cannot deduct your contribution.

The acknowledgement must include the following information.

  1. Your name and taxpayer identification number.
  2. The vehicle identification number or similar number.
  3. A statement certifying the car was sold in an arm's length transaction between unrelated parties.
  4. The gross proceeds from the sale.
  5. A statement that your deduction may not be more than the gross proceeds from the sale.
  6. The date of the contribution.

However, if there was significant intervening use of or material improvement to the car by the organization, the acknowledgement does not have to include the information in items 3, 4, and 5 above. Instead, it must contain a certification of the intended use of or material improvement to the car and the intended duration of that use and a certification that the vehicle will not be transferred in exchange for money, other property, or services before completion of that use or improvement.

This acknowledgement must be provided within 30 days of the sale of the car or, if there is significant intervening use or material improvement of the car by the organization, within 30 days of the contribution.

The organization also must provide this information to the IRS. Use Form 1098-C.

Donations of inventory. These rules do not apply to donations of inventory. For example, these rules do not apply if you are a car dealer who donates a car you had been holding for sale to customers.

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