There are a lot of reasons for donating a boat. Maybe you have lost interest in boating or sailing, or you no longer want to pay for maintenance, or you just got a new boat and while you still love the sport, having two boats is not necessary or desirable. Whatever the reason, you have quite a lot of options.
The same rules that apply to car donations generally apply to boat donations. Here are the facts: you will only get a tax donation for your donation if you itemize your tax deductions. If you just take the standard deduction, you will get no monetary benefit from donating your boat. Also, even if you do itemize deductions, you will probably get much less of a deduction that you are expecting.
The primary difference between donating a car and a boat is in the valuation process. Car owners can just check the Kelly Blue Book, but boat owners need to have a marine appraiser that is recognized by the IRS tell them how much their boat is worth. You also, of course, have to find a charity that accepts boats and is approved by the IRS as a viable charity for a tax deduction.
There are, surprisingly, quite a few organizations and charities that accept boats. When I say “organizations” I mean companies that are set up for the purpose of accepting and processing donations (cars, boats, airplanes, etc) for charities. When I say charities, I mean charities that have not outsourced this donation processing work. Here’s the list:
Pacific Marine Foundation (http://www.pacificmarine.org)
Probably the best choice for a boat donation. They have been mentioned in numerous major publications (Wall Street Journal, New York Times Business Week). They also sell boats.
Donate a Car (http://www.donateacar.com)
They also accept boats from all 50 states. This is a major donation processor with a pretty long track record.
Action Donation Services (http://www.actiondonation.org)
Another donation processor, but they take boats, offer free pickup and can even to “partial cash payments” for more valuable donations, like boats.
Cars for Kids (http://www.kars4kids.org)
A donation processor for Jewish charities, this company has a long and excellent track record, and they provide all the support and free towing that the other big processors give.
Boats with Causes (http://www.boatswithcauses.org)
This charity will take any boat, running or not, including fishing boats. Proceeds are given to the charity “With Causes” (http://www.withcauses.org). They also offer a “free vacation voucher with deluxe hotel accommodations. They pick up in all 50 states and offer free towing. That all sounds good, but after some research, I actually recommend you AVOID this “charity”. I found two instances of people who said the owner of the site had an extensive criminal record, and the charity is not listed with any of the major accreditation services, like the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator. The typos on the home page of this site also made me think they are not entirely on the ball, and with IRS deductions and the required paperwork, you really need to be working with a charity or a donation processor who knows what they’re doing.
Boat Angel (http://www.boatangel.org)
They take boats that run or don’t run and are 501(c)3 IRS classified, which is a good sign. They also sell a lot of boats. You will need to do some research on them, are they are not BBB or Charity Navigator listed, but there are no red flags here.