? Navigating the Subtleties of the Florida Vehicle Donation Program and Regulations
Like many other things that have changed since 2000 in Florida, vehicle donation agents have found themselves with far less latitude. In fact, many companies have given up on taking donations in that state, though many who left were not serving legitimate charities anyhow. When threatened with an investigation by the State Attorney General, most such companies simply focused their efforts elsewhere.
In Florida, vehicle donation agents do continue to operate on behalf of real 501 c(3), non-profit organizations (NPOs). To apply for non-profit status, a charitable NPO must prove to the IRS that they are serving the public good (as narrowly defined in the tax code) through an educational or service oriented mission.
Additionally, Florida’s vehicle donation program regulations require that each such company be registered at the state level, pledging what charitable NPOs they work for, complete with exempt tax ID numbers. Many such companies that have made the transition since federal laws changed in 2005 are also registered with the Better Business Bureau or some such organization.
Because there are so many older people in Florida as well as a great many people in need of vehicular services Florida’s vehicle donation services are a very important component of many different charitable organizations. For instance, there are more Meals on Wheels services in Florida than just about anywhere else, depending upon the county.
This means that cars that are in good working order (and the ones that receive the highest amount of allowable tax deduction) can easily be matched with a charity that could really use it. In Florida, vehicle donation is also fueled by the large number of “little, old ladies” who have very nice (low miles!) cars they can no longer drive. Many of these vehicles are donated, perhaps because their owners are now relaint upon such services.
Regardless of the reasons, one is in a position to get the fair market value of their vehicle as a tax deduction (sadly, not a credit to their total tax that tends to be about three times as valuable) in Florida. Vehicle donations here are very often of actual vehicles rather than junker cars that are then scold for scrap on the wholesale market. However, in other parts of the country, this is far more likely.
On the other hand, when you’ve got a perfectly good, running car that you’d like to donate in florida, vehicle donation levels are such that your car may not be good enough to compete with your neighbor’s old Cadillac. Therefore, many cars that would be perfectly usable in other markets end up on the wholesale lot in Florida.
Vehicle donations, though still down (as they are in the rest of the country since 2005, are higher in Florida than the rest of the country. However, if you are a winter-only visitor, don’t think that you have to donate your vehicle in Florida to have it go to a good use. Indeed, if your car needs some minor repair to make it safe and functional for use, a little looking around back in your home state will find low-income people who need your car to help them get out of poverty. In Florida, vehicle donation programs sometimes reject such cars for use.
If that wasn’t reason enough to carefully consider all your options as a Snowbird, a car that is sold on the wholesale market can net as little as 5% of what might be the “fair market value” of the car, as if you were to sell it yourself through a classified ad. Therefore when presented with wholesale prices in Florida and vehicle donation to an educational charity that provides cars to needy folks up north, the larger benefit is obvious.
Of course, regardless of your location, you’ll need to have a free and clear title. In Florida, vehicle donation laws require you to sign the title over. If the vehicle is to be turned into scrap, either you or (more likely) the company that tows your vehicle away, will need to file an application for a demolition title.
As a general rule, there is no reason you should have to pay any fees when dealing with a for-profit agency. If donating directly to a charity, you may elect to also donate the fees they need to pay to get the car in the hands of a needy individual, though they usually take care of it, too. Florida vehicle donation laws are generally designed to allow charities to continue their good work while taking the profit motivation away from the unscrupulous companies that once thrived in the state, actually preying on needy populations.
– 1 –
Auto Diesel/37_Florida vehicle donation.txt