Client FAQ – Documentation for charitable contributions


I have a car that I would like to donate to my church. Can I just claim the amount shown as the value of the car per the Kelly Blue Book (about $6,500) on Schedule A of Form 1040?


When you contribute an auto to a charitable organization, you must determine its fair market value at the time of the contribution to determine the amount of the charitable deduction on your tax return. For a contribution valued at over $5,000, a written appraisal is required and must be attached to the return.

While guides like the Kelly Blue Books are helpful and can provide a good estimate of the value of your auto, the values shown are not “official” and do not qualify as an appraisal of any specific donated property. Once a qualified appraisal of the property has been secured, you must complete Section B of Form 8283 for each item or group of items for which you claim a deduction of over $5,000. The organization that received the property must complete and sign Part IV of Section B. Failure to properly report the contribution on Form 8283 or attach the appraisal report can result in the IRS disallowing your deduction for your noncash charitable contribution. Please note that appraisal fees do not increase your charitable deduction but are miscellaneous itemized deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040.