Donating a boat you don’t use anymore can be a great way to help a good cause. Rather than allowing the boat to sit in your driveway unused, it can go to a charity and benefit people less fortunate. There are many charities that accept boats as donations, and you can even write off your gift on your taxes. Before donating, you will want to make sure it is in good condition. You also want to make sure the charity can accept and process the boat. Not all charities are equipped to handle donation boats especially if the boat has no trailer. Here are some important steps you should take in order to prepare your donation.
Choose the Right Charity
One of the most important things you will need to decide is which charity you are donating to. There are many different organizations that accept boats. Once you have the charity name, you can check the Internal Revenue Service’s website for qualified charitable organizations. If the charity you choose is not listed there, you will not be able to get a tax write-off. Make sure to enter in the proper name of the charity as some charities abbreviate their names for fundraising purposes. If you donate to an unqualified charity, you may lose the deduction and be subject to penalties. All charities are issued determination letters, you can request a copy of the charity’s determination letter which will tell you the EIN number and type of organization. Once you are comfortable with the selection, talk to its representatives and request information about the process, most organizations can mail or email you a donation package.
Decide Whether You Are Donating the Boat or Its Value
There are many ways charities benefit from your boat donation. In some cases, a charity might make repairs needed and sell your boat, or they sell the boat “as is where is” accepting its current value as a non-running boat and using the funds to further their stated charitable purposes. You will need to ask the charity about the value of the donation. Many charities can assist you with looking up the value and determining the dollar amount of the donation. In most cases, donor’s claim the dollar amount listed on the final sale. The IRS form 1098c allows up to a $500 amount for boats and trailers and does not require a receipt when the item sells for less than $500.
Once the donation is complete the charity is obligated to send you a 1098C. When you receive it, make sure you keep it for your records.
Prepare the Boat
Before you donate your boat, make sure it is clean of all personal effects. If the trailer tires are flat, airing them up (although not necessary) would add to the value of the boat. Make sure you have original copies of your title or registration, if you inherited the boat make sure you have the court documents giving you the right to transfer it. In general, the charity will want a description of the boat and whether it runs or not. If the boat has been in storage or a slip for a while, check for hidden damage or even pests living inside.
It is rare that someone donates a boat that does not need some repairs, so do not worry about them. The charity can choose to repair your boat, but most will just be happy for the donation. If the boat is in the water, most marinas will give you a free haul out and bottom cleaning. Before you transfer the title to a boat at the marina or storage yard, make sure the manager knows you are turning over the ownership and they will not hold you liable for future bills. If you are in doubt, continue with the donation but hold onto the title until you know for sure.
Gather together any past repair orders, important documentation and service records as this information will be helpful in the donation process.
These are just a few important tips you should consider before donating a boat to a charity. It can be a complex process, but once it’s done you will have given your boat to a wonderful cause and made a positive impact on someone’s life.
About the Author: Donna Parker is a boat enthusiast who recently donated her old sailboat to a charity that provides medical aid to families in rural Cambodia.
Image: A Taylor