A Charity Scheme That You Should Stay Away From

I am not a paranoid person, but I am getting the feeling that every con, phony scheme and bogus business opportunity is being beamed directly at me. I can’t turn on my car radio, television set or pick up a newspaper without hearing or reading about some questionable promotion. I could fill this newsletter with a list of them but for now I would like to tip you off about one that really bothers me because it uses a charity to mislead you.

You have to be able to itemize your deductions to take a charitable write-off…

I was listening to my car radio one morning when a silky smooth voice said “Profit By Donating Your Car To Charity”. During the next 30 seconds I was made to feel that the veterans organization receiving the car would reap a great reward from my generosity.

This advertisement (and all the others like it) imply that big tax write-offs await those who donate their junkers and hint that you can somehow be better off financially by giving a car away than you could be by selling it. That’s never the case unless you’re willing to commit tax fraud by assigning some outrageously inflated value to your cast-off vehicle. You soon find out that this is only way to get that big deduction! The car donation ads don’t mention that the tax break isn’t available to most people. You have to be able to itemize your deductions to take a charitable write-off, and most taxpayers don’t have enough deductions to itemize.

The ads also gloss over how little money actually winds up in charitable hands — usually less than 30% of the car’s value, and sometimes as little as $100. The rest goes to the for-profit companies and junkyards that process the cars — and that pay for the advertising.

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