Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 10am

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Tax rule change doesn't lessen value of donating car to charity

Were you thinking about donating a car to your favorite charity but hesitating because you are not sure it is still a good deal under the revised tax law? Hesitate no more. The only real difference under the revisions, which took effect in 2005, is that you cannot cheat. If you weren't planning to cheat, the law is insignificant.

Under the previous rules, you could estimate the value of your car using the Kelley Blue Book. You could cheat by citing the "good condition" amount on your tax return even if your car was a wreck.

Now, for vehicles worth more than $500, you must note the actual amount your charity is paid for the car. Generally, charities receive at least the fair Blue Book price because many repair the donated vehicles before selling them.

Donating a car is one of the easiest ways to contribute to charity, and certainly the easiest way to get rid of a vehicle. The charity picks up your car, even if it does not run.

"You are helping a wonderful agency and getting your old car off your lot for a tax deduction," said Justin Czujko, car donation contact for Community Association for Rehabilitation (C.A.R.), a Palo Alto program that helps area adults and children with developmental disabilities. Czujko said vehicle donations decreased last year because of uncertainty about the tax law revision.

In addition to helping the developmentally disabled, C.A.R. provides assistance for people with acquired disabilities, such as injuries or stroke. C.A.R.'s Betty Wright Swim Center, 3864 Middlefield Road, is the only public aquatic-therapy warm-water pool on the Peninsula.

Chris Logan, director of development at the agency at 525 E. Charleston Road, emphasized the importance of vehicle donations.

"It's money that goes to a wonderful cause and stays here in the community," she said.

Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC), 711 Church St., Mountain View, is another respected area agency that accepts vehicle donations. The council provides counseling for at-risk youth and their families in Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

"We are a unique program because we have a joint venture with local cities," said Areceli Brun, marketing manager.

Sunday Friends of San Jose provides a supportive environment for low-income families to learn and practice social and economic life skills. Children and parents work together with volunteers to improve self-confidence and bolster pride, work ethic and family unity. Sunday Friends strives to bridge the gap between two communities - families and volunteers - building mutual understanding and respect for all people.

Sunday Friends works with the St. Vincent de Paul Society on vehicle donations. Experts assess the potential value of the vehicle over the phone with clients. St. Vincent's picks up the car, makes necessary repairs and then sells the vehicle. Sunday Friends receives a portion of the resale price.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of local charities that take vehicle donations. For more information, contact your favorite agency.

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