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Donation of a trailer for use by charity

I am donating a 5th wheel trailer  in good condition to a charity. It is a vehicle, and has a VIN, but is not a motor vehicle, boat or airplane.  It is my understanding that the charity will be keeping the trailer for volunteers to stay in while working on projects for the charity... but of course, those plans could change after I donate the trailer... so they might sell it within 3 years.

I printed out a  JD Powers NADA valuation guide that indicates the trailer (without options... and it has some that should increase it's value) has a low retail value of $4560, and a high retail value of $5500.  So I think $4999 should be extremely fair and easily defendable, right?

I'm thinking all I need to fill out is a form 8283, Part 1, line 1, columns a-i.   In column (b), I'll check the box, but not enter a VIN, since I will attach a form 1098-C (see below).    In Column (i) for method used to determine the fair market value, I'd enter "used vehicle guide"

I'm thinking I should also  have the Charity complete a Form 1098-C , filling out the donee information, my name (as donor) and address, and

1 Date of contribution

2b Year 2c Make 2d Model
3 Vehicle or other identification number

and 5a Donee certifies that vehicle will not be transferred for money, other property, or services before completion of material improvements or significant intervening use

Then submit that form 1098-C along with the form 8283, and keep the NADA guide for my records, and I should be... fine?  

what do you think? 

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3 Replies
Expert Alumni

Donation of a trailer for use by charity

I think you are on the right track. The charity filed the Form 1098-C which indicates it's a vehicle.


Your guide as well as pictures of the trailer should be maintained, as well as a receipt from the qualifying organization. A qualified appraisal is not required if the donation is below $5,000 as you may already know based on your question.  Because they are keeping and using the trailer, you can use the fair market value (FMV) based on the IRS information below.


Donors may claim a deduction of the vehicle's fair market value under the following circumstances:

  • The charity makes a significant intervening use of the vehicle, such as using it to deliver meals on wheels.

  • The charity makes a material improvement to the vehicle, i.e., major repairs that significantly increase its value and not mere painting or cleaning.

  • The charity donates or sells the vehicle to a needy individual at a significantly below-market price, if the transfer furthers the charitable purpose of helping a poor person in need of a means of transportation.

You can get to this area on TurboTax Premier by following these steps:

  1. Open (continue) your return in TurboTax.
  2. In the search box, search for donations > Press Enter,  then select the "Jump to" link in the search results.
  3. Answer Yes to Did you make any donations to charity?
  4. Answer No to Do you have an account with ItsDeductible Online?
  5. On the next screen, answer Yes to enter your donations for 2020.
  6. Continue with the onscreen instructions.
  • Click here for more IRS information on charitable donations.
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Donation of a trailer for use by charity

Thank you for the reply.   It makes me feel better.

The charity is NOT in the business of getting vehicles and selling them; this may be the first vehicle ever donated to them, so it's new to them too.   

Good point about taking pictures.... I'll go do that now.

Donation of a trailer for use by charity

The charity called the IRS and also talked with their accountant.    Both said that the 5th wheel trailer WASN'T a motor vehicle, and shouldn't be treated as one.

Instead, it's more like a large piece of expensive furniture,  a stack of expensive lumber, valued at over $500.  And needed to be treated as such.


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