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Car donation services have become such an industry -- with fundraisers, middlemen and auction houses -- that Congress enacted tighter laws in 2005 to regulate them. The goal was to end abuses in car donation services, where donors were inflating the value of their auto to get higher tax deductions.
There also were reports of individuals and groups, including used car dealers, trying to pass themselves off as charities to get car donations. The tougher laws end a lot of the problems and return the focus to giving. Donors with vehicles valued at more than $500 now must limit their tax deduction to how much the charity gets when reselling the vehicle. Many charities go through auction houses and hire fundraisers to handle vehicle donations. Some charities get a flat fee for each donated vehicle, no matter its value, while others split the proceeds with the for-profit companies that handle the sales.
It makes sense to check with various car donation services to find out what portion of the proceeds from car donations actually go to charitable programs.