Even though we make donating to Ideastream Public Media easy, we understand that you may have additional questions regarding the vehicle donation process, tax deductions, and motor vehicle regulations. We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help provide answers to questions you may have about donating your used car, truck, RV, boat, camper or other vehicle.
If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Donor Support Line at: 844-432-4332.
How do I check on the status of my car or get other answers?
We are available seven days a week. Please call 844-432-4332 or email email@example.com to get the answers to your questions.
Hours of Operation (EST):
9:00am - 8:30pm (EST), Mon - Fri
10:00am - 8:30pm (EST), Saturday
10:00am - 8:30pm (EST), Sunday
What are the benefits of donating a vehicle to Ideastream Public Media?
It’s easy, fun, free and secure! We convert vehicles into cash, which becomes a welcome donation to Ideastream Public Media. Your gift may qualify for a tax deduction and you avoid the cost and hassle of repairing or selling a car you no longer want.
Are there any costs?
No. There is no cost to the donor. All expenses are deducted from the gross sales price, and if the costs ever exceed the price, those costs are covered by CARS, our vehicle donation program provider.
What types of vehicles do you accept?
All vehicles are considered! We strive to accept all types of donated vehicles, running or not, including cars, trucks, trailers, boats, RVs, motorcycles, campers, off-road vehicles, planes, heavy equipment, farm machinery, and most other motorized vehicles. To find out if we can accept your vehicle, please complete our secure online vehicle donation form, or call us toll-free at 844-432-4332 during regular hours of operation.
Does my car have to be registered?
This varies from state to state. Each Vehicle Donor Service Representative is equipped with a 50-state guide for the steps necessary in each state and will advise you of these steps during the donation process.
Do I need a smog certificate or safety inspection to donate my vehicle?
No. For states with this requirement, you may donate your vehicle without a smog certificate or safety inspection.
My car doesn’t run or hasn’t been used in years. Can I still donate it?
Yes! We can accept most vehicles, running or not. However, it must be in one piece and towable, have an engine, and be tow truck accessible. To find out if we can accept your vehicle, please complete our secure online vehicle donation form, or call us toll-free 844-432-4332 seven days a week during regular hours of operation.
Where do I sign my Title?
It varies, so please wait to mark the Title until after you have discussed it with the vendor picking up your vehicle as they are experts in your local area. If you have questions, you can call our toll-free number 844-432-4332 to speak to a representative.
Can you pick up vehicles in all 50 states?
Yes! Our vehicle donation program can provide quick and convenient vehicle pick-up and towing just about anywhere in all 50 states. We provide vehicle donation processing in the contiguous 48 states as well as the District of Columbia, without limitation. In Alaska, we service the Fairbanks and Anchorage areas with a 50-mile service radius. In Hawaii, we service the island of Oahu and the island of Hawaii. If you are outside of Ohio, and have questions about donating to Ideastream Public Media, please contact us via our secure online vehicle donation form, or call us toll-free at 844-432-4332 seven days a week during regular hours of operation.
How will my vehicle be picked up?
Once you have provided us with all necessary information via the online vehicle donation form or over the phone with one of our Vehicle Donor Support Representatives, we will arrange to have a licensed tow company pick up your vehicle at a time convenient for you. The vehicle will be picked up and taken to one of our many sale locations where it will be sold—all at no cost to you.
How quickly can I have my vehicle picked up?
In many cases, once the donation record has been created, we can schedule the vehicle to be picked up on the initial call. In other cases, we will contact you within two to three business days to schedule a convenient appointment time with one of our preferred vendors. If you need your car picked up sooner, please let one of our Vehicle Donor Support Representatives know during your initial call. We will do our best to accommodate your time frame. For more specific information pertaining to your vehicle donation, please call us at 844-432-4332 during regular hours of operation.
What do you do with donated vehicles?
Donated vehicles are sold through the used-car markets and provide crucial funding for Ideastream Public Media programs. We work with a very large network of nationwide and independent vendors to sell the vehicle and maximize donation proceeds. We analyze vendor pricing and performance on a regular basis to improve the process and ensure the best possible return for Ideastream Public Media and to maximize the donor’s tax benefit. For unique or specialty items that have been donated, we may use other means to sell the vehicle to help ensure the maximum funds are received for each donation.
How long is the entire process from the pickup to when Ideastream Public Media receives its funds?
We have multiple sales outlets and work hard to find the best buyer for each vehicle. The entire sale process may take four to 12 weeks. The net cash proceeds from your generous vehicle donation are sent to Ideastream Public Media within five business days upon the receipt of the sale proceeds from CARS auction or direct buyer providers.
What if I don’t have the Title or have Title issues?
In most states, you will need the clear Title to the vehicle. But if you do not have it, or have problems with your Title, please call us anyway. It is possible that other arrangements may be made. Any lien holder listed on the Title must be cleared and/or released by the bank. Please refer to the motor vehicle division in your state for clear instructions. We are also available seven days a week during regular hours of operation. Please call us toll-free at 844-432-4332.
Are cars sold at auction?
We carefully evaluate each vehicle to find the best buyers. We assess the year, make, model, location, and resale potential then monitor the sale to ensure maximum returns. In most cases, vehicles are sold through an auction facility. High-end or specialty vehicles are individually evaluated and sold for the highest market value.
Will I be notified when it sells?
Yes. Once your vehicle sells, we will either email and/or mail a thank-you letter on behalf of Ideastream Public Media, which serves as your tax receipt. Please note that if your vehicle sells for more than $500 and your tax identification number has been provided, an IRS Form 1098-C, ‘Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes’, will be mailed to you within 30 days of the sale stating the amount of gross proceeds received from your donation.
Who operates the Ideastream Public Media Vehicle Donation Program?
*CARS, Inc. (Charitable Adult Rides & Services) runs the Ideastream Public Media Vehicle Donation Program. CARS is an ISO 9001 certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Diego that operates under the governance of an independent board of directors and specializes in vehicle donation services for other nonprofits. CARS follows governmental compliance with all IRS and state regulations concerning vehicle donation programs, fundraising registrations, and charitable receipting requirements throughout all 50 states and Canada, as required. CARS has also maintained an A+ Better Business Bureau rating for over 10 years.
Is my vehicle donation tax-deductible?
Yes! Vehicle donations are tax-deductible. Individual tax situations vary. For specific tax- related questions, please consult your tax advisor or refer to IRS Publication 4303.
How is the value of my tax deduction determined?
Most vehicles are sold through local wholesale auctions and we work to get the highest return per vehicle for you and Ideastream Public Media. According to the IRS Guidelines, you may claim fair market value for your donation up to the actual sale value. If your vehicle is sold for more than $500, the maximum amount of your deduction will be the sales price of the vehicle which will be listed on your IRS Form 1098-C.
A special rule may apply if the donated vehicle sells for $500 or less. In this case, a deduction for the lesser of the vehicle’s fair market value on the date of the contribution may be claimed, or $500, provided you have written acknowledgment (i.e. the initial donation receipt or the thank-you letter you receive once the donation process is complete).
Defining the Fair Market Value
The “fair market value” of a vehicle is the price that you could sell it for in its current condition to another individual, willing seller and willing buyer, and it represents the cash that you give up to make the donation. A convenient source of this information is the private party sale value as shown in online valuation guides such as Kelley Blue Book ( https://www.kbb.com/company/faq/new-cars/#whatIsFairMarketRange).
What tax forms will I receive and how do I receive them?
In most cases, you will receive an initial donation receipt from the tow driver at the time of your vehicle pick-up. This initial acknowledgement will indicate your name as well as the year, make, model and condition of the vehicle you are donating. You will then be mailed a thank-you letter on behalf of Ideastream Public Media, which serves as a tax receipt, within 30 days of the sale of the vehicle. This will be your final tax document if your vehicle sold for less than $500.
If your vehicle sells for more than $500 and your tax identification number has been provided, an IRS Form 1098-C, ‘Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes’, will be mailed to you within 30 days of the sale stating the amount of gross proceeds received from your donation.
How do I request a donation or tax receipt?
Please call us at 844-432-4332 during regular hours of operation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to help you.
What if my vehicle is valued over $5,000?
Effective January 1, 2005, you are no longer required to have vehicles appraised. The value you may claim will be the amount of gross proceeds received from your vehicle. If your vehicle sells for more than $5,000, you will need to complete Section B of Form 8283 and obtain an acknowledgment signature on the form prior to claiming the deduction, and the completed form will need to be included with your income tax return.
Where can I find additional IRS tax deduction requirements for a charitable car donation?
There are many resources available to guide you through the vehicle donation process. Please click the links below to access IRS publications and resources. If you still have questions, please feel free to reach out to us toll-free at 844-432-4332 seven days a week during regular hours of operation.
This vehicle donation program protects the privacy of every donor. Donor information is not given to any organization except the IRS as required by law. Donor names and addresses are shared exclusively with the donor-designated organization. Social Security numbers required under the current tax law for vehicle donations are only shared with the IRS. Social Security Numbers are encrypted with AES256 encryption. The encryption key is stored remotely from the data. Controls are in place to limit who can request access to the decrypted Social Security Numbers with logs stored of each access.
Do I need to notify my local Motor Vehicle Division when I donate my vehicle?
State Notification proves that you are no longer the registered owner of the donated vehicle. Depending on the registered state of the vehicle, your next step (after your vehicle has been picked up) is to notify the state about your recent vehicle donation. Please only notify your state after the vehicle is picked up. This step may be required by the State and may include surrendering the license plates.
The steps needed to release your liability of a donated vehicle vary by state. Our Vehicle Donor Service Representatives can provide you with the steps necessary for each state. If you have questions about how to notify your state about your donated vehicle, please give us a call at 844-432-4332. seven days a week during regular hours of operation, or email email@example.com.