How to Donate a Car in California

Giving your car to charity is a wonderful gesture. I appreciate your thoughtfulness toward the requirements of others. There are a few formalities involved with donating a vehicle in California. If you’d like to donate an automobile in California, we’ll show you how to go about the entire process.

The Benefits of Car Donations in California

  • Whether your car is broken down or not, we will tow it for free.
  • You can claim a tax credit for your contribution to Wheels for Wishes because the organization is qualified as a 501(c)(3) charity.
  • Donating your old car relieves you of the responsibility of trying to sell or exchange it.
  • We will handle everything for you. We’ll take care of the title transfer and all documents required by the DMV.
  • When we pick up your car, we’ll mail you a receipt that you can use in conjunction with your 1098-c tax form to claim a full tax deduction.
  • Donating a car in California helps sick kids who are going through tough times.

 What are the Procedures for Donating a Car in California?

If you live in California and want to donate your old automobile to charity, it’s best to choose an organization whose mission aligns with your own. This could be animal rescue, community service, or environmental protection.

1. Check to See if Your Vehicle Meets Donation requirements.

Vehicle donations in California can be made to a wide variety of organizations, each of which may have specific requirements for the kinds of cars they’ll take. Donated vehicles in California can be any of the following:

  • Transit vehicles
  • Sedans
  • Vehicles of the compact class
  • Open-top automobiles
  • Vans
  • SUVs
  • Racing cars
  • Motorcycles
  • Snowmobiles
  • Electric golf cars
  • Sailboats
  • Diesel-free boats
  • Pontoons are a type of boat.
  • Cars, vans, and buses
  • Taxis
  • Getting Ready to Give
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2. Provide The Required Documents

In order to donate a car in the Golden State, you’ll need the following items:

  • Title applications or transfer forms that are copies
  • A second copy of the finalized title
  • Valid proof of auto insurance coverage
  • The vehicle’s proof of registration
  • Identity Documentation
  • Full payment of all title transfer taxes in California
  • Donating a Car in the State of California

3. Documents Required By The Doness

California car contributions must comply with IRS regulations. Meet all of the criteria set forth by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. When you give up your car, you should immediately stop paying for car insurance. Donating a car in California Know these IRS requirements.

The charity that is receiving the vehicle is responsible for completing the title transfer process. The California Department of Motor Vehicles should be informed of your donation, though. If you provide the California Department of Motor Vehicles with notice, you release yourself from any responsibility for the vehicle. You can give notice to the DMV by going online or to your local CA DMV office.

4. The car registration must be canceled.

The registration must be terminated as soon as the car is no longer in your possession. License plates for the vehicle may also need to be returned to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

5. Refunds

You may be able to get a reimbursement for the time your automobile wasn’t registered if you cancel its registration before it expires again. The California Department of Motor Vehicles is the place to go for details about registration refunds.

6. Give Up Your Driver’s License and plates.

You are not required to turn in your license plates under these circumstances in the state of California. It’s possible you can swap the plates over to a new vehicle.

7. Set up a pickup time.

In order to make the process as convenient as possible, the majority of businesses provide free pickup services.

8. Maintain the donation receipt.

Tax deductions equal to the sale price the organization was able to obtain must be claimed.

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9. Stop Paying for Car Insurance

When donating an automobile, it’s important to let your insurance company know. You have decided to immediately terminate your auto insurance coverage. When you call your vehicle insurance agent to cancel your coverage, they will let you know what to do next.

Tax deductions: Important information before donating your vehicle

You could be able to deduct your charitable donation, which is one of the largest advantages of donating your car. It’s not as simple as giving the car to a charity and then deducting its value from your taxable income, just like with anything else the IRS regulates. Note the following points:

1. You must specifically list your deductions.

Only if you itemize your taxes are you eligible to take a charitable deduction, including for automobiles. A car donation may not help you at all come tax time due to the fact that most people are better off using the standard deduction as a result of the recent changes to the tax code.

2. You must give to a charity that is eligible.

Give your car to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or a religious institution that is tax exempt in order for your donation to qualify as a tax deduction. By phoning the IRS hotline at 1-877-829-5500 or going online, you can check the charity’s eligibility.

3. You must gather specific documentation.

You should receive a formal receipt as soon as possible after donating your car to the cause. You may also receive a written recognition or a Form 1098-C (Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes) from the charity, depending on what they do with your car. If you’re deducting more than $500 from your taxes, you may need to send the actual document in as well as the information on it, so keep hold of it.

Additionally, you must obtain an official documented appraisal at least 60 days before to donating the car if it is worth more than $5,000 and the charity does not intend to sell it for cash.

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4. Submitting the correct tax forms

Most charity make money by selling the donated cars. If so, you can write off the vehicle’s ultimate selling price, which the charity will give you in writing or on Form 1098-C.


Depending on how much you can write off, you’ll need to submit the following paperwork with your tax return:


  • Anything for $500 or less, but keep your documents handy in case there is an audit.
  • $501 to $5,000: Submit Section A of Form 8283 along with Form 1098-C or the signed acknowledgment.
  • More than $5,000: Submit Form 1098-C, the written recognition, Section B of Form 8283, and, if the charity isn’t selling the vehicle, the written appraisal of the vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Donations in California

1. Should I Inform the DMV of My Car Donation?

Yes! If you want to be completely relieved of any responsibility for your donated vehicle, you must immediately file a form with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

2. Where Can I Find the Best California Car Donation Organization?

The greatest charity to donate to is the one whose mission most closely aligns with your own. Look for a charity that is actively improving your area of interest. If you want to make a positive impact on the planet, donate to a cause that promotes environmental sustainability.


You may be sure that charity will appreciate your car contribution whether or not you can claim a tax break for it. Given that organizations can sell items to scrap yards, even your old junker might be eligible as a contribution.

So think about giving your car to charity; it’s a terrific way to get rid of clutter in your yard and benefit others at the same time. If you do plan to take a deduction, simply make sure to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s to ensure a win-win situation.

Many charities even offer free automobile pickup. But the rules are a little looser if you also want to deduct it from your taxes and receive some money back.

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