Even though we make donating to Smile Train easy, we understand that you may have additional questions regarding the 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: 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483).
What do I need to donate my vehicle?
In most states, you will need the clear title to the vehicle— but if you do not have it, 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 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483).
Do I need a smog certificate to donate my car?
No. You may donate your vehicle without a smog certificate or safety inspection.
What types of vehicles do you accept?
All vehicles are considered! We strive to accept all types of 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 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483) seven days a week during regular hours of operation.
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, have an engine, be tow truck accessible and towable. To find out if we can accept your vehicle, please complete our secure online vehicle donation form or call us toll-free at 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483) seven days a week during regular hours of operation.
Can you pick up vehicles in all 50 states?
Yes! We can provide quick and convenient vehicle pick-up and towing just about anywhere in all 50 of the United States. If you are outside of New York and have questions about donating to Smile Train, please contact us via our secure online vehicle donation form or call us toll-free at 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483) seven days a week during during regular hours of operation.
How will my car 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 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 most 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 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 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483) during regular hours of operation.
What do you do with donated vehicles?
We work with a very large network of nationwide and independent suppliers to maximize donation proceeds. We analyze vendor pricing and performance on a regular basis to improve the process and ensure the best possible return for Smile Train 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.
When your vehicle is picked up, the driver will provide you with an initial donation receipt. You may claim as a tax deduction the fair market value of your vehicle up to $500 on your donation even if your vehicle sells for less. If your vehicle sells for over $500, we will provide a 1098-C IRS form which will allow you to claim the full sale price.
Is my donation tax-deductible?
Yes! Your vehicle donation is tax-deductible. Individual tax situations vary, so please check with a tax professional to determine how you may benefit.
How is the value of my tax deduction determined?
When your vehicle is picked up, the driver will provide you with an initial donation receipt. Most vehicles are sold through local auctions and we work to get the highest return per vehicle for you and Smile Train. According to the IRS Guidelines, you may claim fair market value for your donation: “Fair market value is the price a willing buyer would pay and a willing seller would accept…” A special rule may apply if the donated vehicle sold for $500 or less. In this case, you may claim a deduction for the lesser of the vehicle’s fair market value on the date of the contribution, or $500, provided you get a written acknowledgment (the thank you letter) you’ll receive from the charity.
If your vehicle is sold for more than $500, the maximum amount of your deduction will be the sales price of the vehicle.
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.
What tax forms will I receive and how do I receive them?
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 tax receipt within 30 days of the sale of the vehicle. This will be your only receipt if your vehicle sells 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. Individual tax situations vary. For specific tax-related questions, please consult your tax advisor or refer to IRS Publication 4303.
How do I request a donation or tax receipt?
Please call us at 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483) during during regular hours of operation and we would be happy to help you.
What if my car is valued over $5000?
Effective January 1, 2005, you will no longer be 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 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 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483) seven days a week during regular hours of operation.
Do I need to notify my local Motor Vehicle Division when I donate my vehicle?
Each state has different criteria for the notification process. Some states require the license plates to be returned to the DMV and other states may require a Release of Liability to be submitted to your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Please reach out to us at 844-620-GIVE (844-620-4483) if you have questions on how to notify the state that you are no longer the owner of the vehicle.