What are the IRS rules regarding a vehicle given to a nonprofit church if the donor wants to take a tax write-off? The car was donated to the church and the donor would like the church to give it to a volunteer who works for the church and does not have a car. Can the church put the title in the volunteer’s name and the donor still get the write-off?
You are dealing with two significant issues here. First, a gift given to a charity that is earmarked for the benefit of a single individual is not considered a charitable contribution and is not deductible, even if the earmarked recipient is a member of a charitable class of beneficiaries. The donor should give the car to the church and let the church decide what to do with it.
Second, there are special rules for gifts to charity of cars, boats and airplanes. Stung be rampant overvaluation of the value of cars given to charity, Congress passed special rules as part of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. The general rule now is that the donor can deduct only the gross sales price of the vehicle when it is sold at auction by the charity, as most such cars are sold. There are two exceptions included in the Act and an additional one added by the IRS in subsequent guidance. The two exceptions in the Act allow a donor to claim a deduction for the lower of the donor’s cost or current fair market value if the charity uses the vehicle in its own charitable program or if it makes substantial improvements to the vehicle before it is sold.
The third exception permits a deduction for the lower of the donor’s cost or current fair market value if the charity gives or sells the vehicle at a substantially below fair market price to a needy individual, as long as the transfer furthers the charitable purpose of helping a poor person in need of a means of transportation. There may be a way for the church to handle this gift that fits within one of these exceptions. (See description on IRS website). If you can meet one of the exceptions, the IRS has rules on how to set the value and prepare the proper Form 8283 to be filed with the claim for deduction.