Skip to main content

Vehicle Donations

Determining the Value of Your Car

The maximum amount you can deduct on your income tax return is the fair market value of your car. Fair market value is the price a willing buyer would pay and a willing seller would accept for the car, when neither party is compelled to buy or sell, and both parties have reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.

A used car guide may be a good starting point to value your car, but you should exercise caution. The IRS will only allow a deduction for the fair market value of the car, which may be substantially less than the “blue book” value.

Example: You donate your car to the local high school for use by students studying car repair. Your credit union representative told you that the “blue book” value of the car is $1,600. However, your car needs extensive repairs, and after some checking, you find that you could only sell your car for $750. Your charitable contribution deduction may not exceed $750, the fair market value of the car.

For information on determining the value of your car, see Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. If you used your car in a trade or business, see the rules for contributions of capital gain property in Publication 526.