How to Donate a Car in California

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Donating a car is a good way to support your local community, and several organizations will gladly take it off your hands in California. It is a worthy cause that can result in significant tax savings if you include your donation in a charitable contribution deduction.

The process of donating a car in California is straightforward. In this blog post, we’ll take you through all the crucial details about donating a car in California from start to finish. Let’s dig in!

Steps To Donate Car in California

Donating a car in California is an easy way to dispose of your old vehicle and help someone in need. Most Non-Profit Organizations in the state accept unwanted vehicles as charitable donations. It’s another way to support California’s campaign to reduce, vehicle reuse and recycle. Here are the steps to follow.

1.   Find a Charitable Organization

First, you’ll need to find a reputable charity that accepts car donations. Perform the due diligence to find organizations with a mission that aligns with your values. You can use the IRS’s online search tool to verify if the organization is eligible for tax-deductible donations.

2.   Gather Necessary Info

Next, you’ll need to gather the paperwork required for the donation. You may also need to provide more information like the make and model of the car, the vehicle identification number (VIN), a release of liability form (available from the CA DMV), and a smog certificate (if needed).

3.   Confirm Car Market Value

If you’re wondering what your car tax deduction will be, check the Kelley Blue Book for a fair market value.

4.   Schedule a Pickup

Once you have all the necessary paperwork, you can either drop off your car at the charity’s location or arrange for it to be picked up. Many charities will pick up the donation for free.

Car Donation FAQs

Here are the frequently asked questions about car donations in California.

Is it Possible to Donate a Car with an Expired Registration in California

Some Organizations like Cars4Kids accept all kinds of vehicle donations- even those with an expired registration/pink slip.

How To Donate a Car in California Without Title

You can still donate a car without a title in California. However, you’ll need to show some paperwork, such as DMV registration, to ascertain vehicle ownership.

Can I Donate My Car Without Smog Check in California

Yes. Donating your car in California doesn’t need a smog certificate or safety inspection.

Donating Cars Without License Plates in California

The car must have license plates when you donate them unless it is a vanity or personal plate.

How To Change Ownership of Car During Donation in California

You should write to the California DMV notifying them about the change in car ownership within five days of donation or gifting.

Do I Need to Notify DMV If I Donate My Car in California?

Yes. It is a requirement for the donor and must be within five days of the vehicle pickup. This is referred to as A Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (NRL).

How Do I Donate a Non-Operational Car in California?

Find a charitable organization that receives all kinds of vehicle donations. They’ll contact you and schedule a free pick up or towing of your vehicle, whether it runs or not.

Best Charity to Donate Car in California

Many great charities receive car donations in California. However, the best charity to donate your car to in California may vary depending on your preferences and priorities. Some people may choose a charity that benefits a cause they care about, such as the environment or medical research.

Others might prefer a charity that directly assists needy people, such as a food bank or homeless shelter. No matter your priorities, a charity in California is ready to receive your donation. Here are examples of charities to donate to:

  1. California Car Donation,  866-392-4483 A list of over 200 affiliated charities that receive car donations in California.
  2. Breast Cancer Car Donations, 866-540-5069 Receives vehicle donations for the fight against cancer.
  3. Cars2Charities, 855-520-2100, A list of charities that accept car donations, including Children & Families, Education, Animal Rescue, Faith and Spirituality, Veterans and more

Tax Break for Donating a Car in California

Car donors in California are eligible for a tax break. When donating a car to a charity, you can deduct the car’s fair market value from your taxes. This deduction can significantly reduce your tax burden, which is one of the many reasons donating a car is a great way to support your favorite causes.

Gifting A Car in California

You should remember a few things when donating a car to a private party in California. The first is that the car must be titled in the donor’s name. The second is that the beneficiary must be a licensed driver in California.

Similarly, the car gift must be made within ten days of the transfer of ownership. The entire process is simple and follows the following steps:

1. Fill out the back of the pink slip with the donor and beneficiary names and addresses.

2. Sign the back of the pink slip, which transfers vehicle ownership.

3. The final step is to have the pink slip notarized, which can be done at any county courthouse or by any licensed Notary Public.

How Is Gifting Different Than Donating a Car

Gifting a car differs from donating a car in many ways, such as; When you gift a car, you may receive tax benefits for the value of the car. Similarly, gifting a car allows you to choose who receives the vehicle, whereas donating a car means the organization receiving the donation gets to choose who benefits from it.

Lastly, donating a vehicle may mean paying for some of the costs associated with transferring ownership and getting rid of the car. Gifting a car may not have any additional costs.

What is the Cost of Transfering a Car Title in California as A Gift

The cost to transfer a car title in California as a gift is quite reasonable. The California DMV charges a $15 fee for the service and a $10 fee for the smog certificate (if applicable). So, it will cost you about $25 to donate your car in California.