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car donation Los Angeles

Where to Donate a Car in Los Angeles
Donating an old car is a great way to support the local charities that help LA’s needy people. These charities are all local and all have section 501(c)(3) organization, so a donation to them qualifies you for a tax deduction. Just remember, if you do not itemize your deductions, there’s no financial gain to be had from donating a car — you only get a tax deduction if you itemize your deductions on your federal tax return.

Ideally, you want to give your car to a charity that will either use the car themselves, give the car to a needy person, or make substantial improvements to the car and then give it away. This is not what usually happens with a donated car, though. What usually happens is that the charity has one of the major car donation companies handle all of their car donations. The car donation company will tow the car and handle the donation paperwork for you (this is good), but they will tow the car to an auction lot. At the auction, your donated car will sell for pennies on the dollar of its Kelly Blue Book value. And even that “pennies on the dollar” value will be cut further by the substantial chunk of the sale that the auctioneer takes. Whatever is left is given to the charity, and that same amount is all that you can deduct. That’s why, in the final accounting of all this, most car donations end up getting their previous owners little more than a $500 deduction.

However, if you can find one of the handfuls of charities that will either use the car, give the car to a needy person, or make major improvements to the car and then sell it, then you can get the Kelly Blue Book value. Most of the charities listed on this page fall into the first category — the auctioned donations. Any of the charities that belong to the second category, which actually uses the cars, will be noted in the charity’s review.

Lange Foundation
This animal charity tries to save impounded animals and has earned 4 stars from Charity Navigator. They currently need a horse trailer, and if you have any other working vehicle, you might very well find a great home for it here. This charity does a lot of moving animals and is a very good candidate to be a charity that would actually use your donated vehicle, not just auction it off. Lange is a nonprofit 501(c)(3), tax-deductible organization.

Relief International

This charity has been awarded the coveted 4-star review from Charity Navigator, so you can be assured you are giving to a very efficient, honorable organization. Relief helps people in disaster areas and also has extensive programs for developing infrastructure, health and education services and more. They do not have a set-up program for accepting donated cars, but try calling (310) 478-1200 or (800) 573-3332, or email them at donate@ri.org to see if they might be able to use your donated vehicle.

Los Angeles Police Foundation

Does have a standing car donation program in place. Call (888) 934-5273 to learn more.

Shelter Partnership

Helps the homeless in and around the LA area. Has a 4-star review from Charity Navigator, and a standing car donation program. Their car donations are processed through Cars 4 Causes (this is not all bad… they know the car donation requirements very well), but call 800-766-2273 to see if there are any opportunities for getting your donated vehicle into the hands of a needy person.

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