Even though we make donating to San Diego Zoo Global 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: 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279).
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 have an accompanying release by the bank. We are also available seven days a week during regular hours of operation. Please call us toll-free at 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279).
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.
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 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279) 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 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 at 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279) 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 [STATE] and have questions about donating to San Diego Zoo Global, please contact us via our secure online vehicle donation form or call us toll-free at 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279) 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 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 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279) 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 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 San Diego Zoo Global 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.
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 auctions and we work to get the highest return per vehicle for you and San Diego Zoo Global. 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
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 the San Diego Zoo Global, 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 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279) during regular hours of operation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would 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 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279) seven days a week during regular hours of operation.
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 your donated vehicle. The steps needed for you to release your liability of your vehicle vary by state. Some states require that you remove and submit the license plates to a local Motor Vehicle Division and other states require a Release of Liability.
Please reach out to us at 888-ZOO-CAR-9 (888-966-2279) or email email@example.com if you have any questions on how to notify your state about your donated vehicle. Our Donor Service Representatives can provide you with the steps necessary for each state.