What Happens If You Donate Your Car, Then Someone Steals It?

Let’s say that you have a clunker of a car that won’t sell for very much money, and there’s a charity you’d like to support. You hand over the car, they take care of selling it, and you get a charitable tax deduction. Seems delightfully simple…until someone steals your car off the lot where the charity was storing it until auction.

What not everyone knows about donating vehicles is that you don’t get to deduct the Kelly Blue Book value of the car that you donated. What you get to deduct is the amount that your car really sells for at auction. That’s fair enough, unless your car gets stolen from the lot before auction. Then what happens?

When this happened to a California man who donated his 15-year-old car to the Breast Cancer Fund, no one could advise him on what to do. The charity’s advice? Check with a tax advisor. He turned to CBS Sacramento consumer reporter Kurtis Ming, who checked into the situation, but couldn’t help, either.

The good news? As long as the man kept his receipt, he can get at least a $500 deduction. Not much if he takes the standard deduction, but better than acting like the car had vanished.

Call Kurtis: What Happens If Your Donated Car Is Stolen Before It’s Sold? [CBS Sacramento]

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  1. FusioptimaSX says:

    For a 15 year old car that’s not a collectable, $500 is extremely reasonable!

  2. CzarChasm says:

    It gets worse, there are plenty of stories about people who donated cars being responsible for what happens to the car after the donation. This guy might get to claim $500 off of his taxes, but he may want to save up for any parking tickets this car accumulates for the next few years.