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Friday May 22, 2015

Case of the Week

The Gas Guzzler's Deduction, Part 2

Case:

Brandon Bigtop loves his truck, which he affectionately named “the Beast.” It was a gift for Brandon’s eighteenth birthday. It is painted bright red and is two tons of metal, muscle and noise. Indeed, many neighbors would grumble as Brandon drove by because the rumbling engine could be heard three blocks away. As you can imagine, eighteen-year old Brandon was in truck heaven.

Brandon is now twenty years older and a university professor, but he never could part with his beloved truck. So, the Beast now sits quietly in the driveway collecting dust and serving as merely an “eye sore” according to his wife. Every once in a while, Brandon will take the truck out for a spin but the 9 miles per gallon truck makes it a costly joy ride. Plus, Brandon still gets the glares from neighbors as he passes through the neighborhood, something he does not relish anymore.

After much deliberation regarding what to do with the Beast, Brandon decides to give his truck to a local charity. It is time to part ways with his old childhood companion. Before deciding to contribute the truck to charity, Brandon checked with his tax advisor regarding the tax benefits of his gift. Brandon wanted to make sure he received the maximum tax benefit from his gift while at the same time not risking an IRS challenge to his gift.

Question:

What are the tax rules for gifts of automobiles? The local charity plans to hold and use the truck in furtherance of its exempt purpose. Does this affect Brandon’s charitable deduction in any way?

Solution:

In general, gifts of vehicles produce a charitable deduction equal to the fair market value of the vehicle. Because vehicles usually lose value over time, the traditional “reduction” rules for gifts of tangible personal property generally do not apply to gifts of vehicles. See GiftLaw Pro Chapter 1.1.4. So, for many years, donors would simple claim a charitable deduction equal to a vehicle’s “Blue Book” value. However, research by the IRS showed that many donors claimed inflated values for their vehicle gifts. For instance, many donors claimed Blue Book value although their vehicle was in poor condition and actually sold for far less than Blue Book value.

As a result, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 created rules for charitable contributions of cars, boats, RVs and aircraft. There are two categories for the rules. The first category was discussed in Part 1 of this series.

The second category is the “hold” category. If a charity plans to hold and use the vehicle, then within 30 days it must certify to the donor its intended use of the property and the intended duration of such use. The charity must also promise that the vehicle will not be sold prior to the anticipated “completion of such use.”

In addition to the certifications listed above, the charity’s receipt to the donor must also list the donor’s name, donor’s Social Security number and the vehicle identification number.

Because the charity is holding the property, there is no maximum charitable deduction limited to gross proceeds, as is the case in the sale category rules. As a result, Brandon will follow the traditional charitable deduction rules, i.e., fair market value.

In this case, Brandon’s truck has a Blue Book value of $4,000. However, based upon its actual condition and mileage, a more accurate value is $3,500. Therefore, Brandon will claim a charitable deduction for $3,500 and retain the charity’s written acknowledgement and certification for substantiation purposes.

If the vehicle value is over $5,000, an appraisal by a qualified appraiser is required. However, for Brandon’s gift deduction of $3,500, the condition of the car must be noted, and he will need to complete Part A of Form 8283 using an appropriate method for valuation. In many cases, donors like Brandon will obtain an appraisal even if the value is below $5,000.

Published May 15, 2015

Previous Articles

The Gas Guzzler's Deduction, Part 1

Exit Strategies for Real Estate Investors, Part 17

Exit Strategies for Real Estate Investors, Part 16

Exit Strategies for Real Estate Investors, Part 15

Exit Strategies for Real Estate Investors, Part 14

scriptsknown

University of Wisconsin-River Falls
410 S. 3rd Street, River Falls WI 54022 USA
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