Is It Time to Retire Your Old Car?

9/2/2016


Are you trying to squeeze a few more miles out of your old, unreliable car? Many people hold on to old cars because they enjoy not having a car payment. Others hesitate to buy a new car because they don't think they will qualify for a decent car loan.

Despite the reasons you are putting off retiring your old car, there will come a time when it is necessary. The decision shouldn't be made lightly. You and your family's safety could be at risk if you continue to use an old, unreliable vehicle.

Here are some signs that it's time to replace your car.

The Car Isn't Safe

Are you nervous that your car will break down every time you drive it? If so, you should consider buying a safer vehicle. Unreliable cars could leave you or your family stranded by the roadside. Older cars can also cause accidents because of a system malfunction. When you drive an unsafe vehicle, you not only put your safety at risk but also the safety of other drivers as well.

If you notice jerking movements while driving your vehicle, or the speed of your vehicle randomly slows, it may be time to get a new car.

The Cost of Repairs Exceeds Your Vehicle's Value

If you are frequently taking your car to the shop for repairs to avoid buying a new car, you may be wasting money. Sometimes, frequent or costly repairs end up being more expensive than buying a new car.

Some car models are known to be less trouble than others. You may be able to avoid similar problems in the future by researching reliable car models before purchasing a new vehicle.

The Fuel Tank Drains Quickly  

Car manufacturers are constantly improving fuel efficiency in newer cars, whereas older cars tend to have poorer fuel economy.

Identify the fuel efficiency of your current vehicle. If you are spending more money on fuel than you would on a new car payment each month, consider buying a more fuel-efficient car. Otherwise, you will likely waste money by frequently fueling your vehicle.

The Car Doesn't Work With Your Current Lifestyle

There are many changes in life that may require a new vehicle. For example, the old beater car you used to commute to work with may not be the best car for you to take your family on a road trip. Other life events may include a new addition to your family, all of your children moving away, a new job, or losing a car in an accident.

The Service Engine Light is Frequently On

If you have started to ignore the lit service engine light because it's always on, you may need to retire your old car. The service engine light on many cars can be checked to determine any necessary repairs. However, if repairs are made and the light remains lit, the light may be failing to function properly. Such a failure will not allow your vehicle to alert you when there are serious problems with your engine.

You may also have other dashboard lights that remain lit in your car. If so, seek the help of a mechanic. If he or she can't fix the problem, consider looking for a new car.

The Vehicle's Current Safety Features Are Outdated

Modern vehicles are much safer than older vehicles. Most new car models have safety technologies and features that can even decrease your chances of getting in an accident. Some features warn the driver of hazards; other features can automatically stop a car to avoid an accident.

Here are some examples of safety features included in many newer vehicles:

  • Rear Back-up camera
  • Electronic stability control (ESC)
  • Curtain airbags
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring

Consider buying a new car to take advantage of these beneficial safety features. Even if you don't buy a brand new car, many cars built within the last five years still have many of these safety features.

If you noticed one or more of these signs, consider donating your old car to Newgate School. Not only will you benefit from a new car, but the students at Newgate will have an opportunity to learn from the damages on your old car.


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8/25/2016


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Considering Donating Your Car? Understand How Your Donation Benefits Others

8/25/2016


Are you ready to buy a new car? Great! Now the question is what to do with the car you currently own.

If your car is repairable and has a reasonable amount of miles, donating your car is a great way to go. Donating can benefit you and benefit an automotive school like Newgate School in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Schools like Newgate use your donated car, van, or truck like a textbook. Students learn automotive repair skills directly from the vehicles.

You will receive charitable deductions on your donation. If you donate to a charity that actually uses the car in its mission, you can receive the highest deduction available, a fair market tax deduction.

But perhaps the biggest advantage to donating your car is the benefits it provides others. In this blog, we’ll tell you exactly how donating your car can benefit other individuals. Read on to discover why you should donate your vehicle rather than sell it.

Your Donated Car Provides Youth With Educational Opportunities

Automotive schools, like Newgate School, accept donated cars and use them to provide young adults with educational opportunities. Depending on their circumstances, some low-income young adults may not have the opportunity to receive a higher education.

However, your donated car provides them with a key material they need to learn auto body and mechanical repair skills. Over a course of 18 months or so, students in these programs will learn basic skills they need to become apprentices in the auto repair industry. These vocational skills allow them to be more successful as they pursue a career in automotive work.

You’ll find Newgate School graduates employed as mechanics at a cement pump manufacturer and at the airport support vehicle maintenance shop. You’ll meet them painting small jets, repairing bus engines, or painting fire trucks. You’ll see them at your local mechanic shops, too. They’re everywhere, thanks to Minnesotans helping Minnesotans.

Your Donated Car Assists Single Mothers in Need

Once students repair your donated car, the vehicle’s usefulness continues to grow. Many donated, repaired vehicles are given to single mothers who struggle with their circumstances. Many of these mothers are trying to become self-sufficient, but they may lack the resources to do so.

To receive a donated, repaired vehicle, a single mother must meet a few requirements:

  • She must be a single mother with one or more dependent, school-aged children.
  • She needs to have a full-time job that she has held for at least six months.
  • Her annual income must be less than $35,000.
  • She must have proof of car insurance to protect the vehicle.
  • She cannot own any other vehicles.

If a woman meets these requirements, she can apply to receive a complimentary vehicle that allows her to more easily support herself and her children. While not every applicant is chosen to receive a vehicle, those who do are able to be more self-sufficient.

Your Donated Car Can Aid Your Community

Minnesota has only a few locally based charities that take car donations, but many national charities collect cars here and send the proceeds outside of the state. Consider the location of the charity’s headquarters before you donate.

At Newgate School, all proceeds from the sale of donated and/or refurbished vehicles stay right here in Minnesota. Minnesotans helping Minnesotans—what a good thing!

Some car donation programs open up opportunities for folks struggling to make a future for themselves. Some haven’t performed well in traditional schools. Others are immigrants who find English challenging but respond well to hands-on automotive training. Some are young military veterans, some injured, who need job skills to re-enter civilian life. And there are others whose lack of skills has limited their potential earnings to minimum wage.

These low-income young people thrive in tuition-free automotive career schools. The possible ways your donated car assists your community are truly endless.

Ready to Donate Your Vehicle?

As outlined above, donating your car not only benefits you greatly, but it also benefits others around you. To get started with the donation process, get in touch with a representative from Newgate School. We accept cars of any make, model, and year as long as the vehicle is in repairable condition.

When you donate your car, you truly do impact the lives of other people. Choose to donate your vehicle and see just how much this choice can benefit your entire community. 


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What You Need to Know About Taxes After Donating Your Car

8/18/2016


What You Need to Know About Taxes After Donating Your Car

There are many benefits you can receive after donating a car. Along with knowing you’ve helped another person, you will also be eligible to receive a tax deduction. If you are interested in receiving a tax deduction after donating your car, you will need to do some homework in order to get the deduction.

Here are some tasks you will need to complete to receive your tax deduction.

Find a Charity

First, find one or several possible charities where you could donate your vehicle. Ask coworkers, friends, family, and neighbors, or you might try your favorite mechanic for a reference. Be sure to search online, too.

Once you have found the name of a charity, look at its website. Then call the charity and ask for the transportation manager. Tell him or her about the vehicle you wish to donate, and ask how the charity will use your vehicle. The use is the key to learning what deductions you can expect.

Determine the Value of Your Vehicle

If your car is worth more than $500, the value of your car will depend on what your chosen charity plans to do with the vehicle. However, you can expect a minimum deduction of $500 when you donate any vehicle.

If a charity plans to sell your donated vehicle, then your deduction is the gross proceeds the charity will make from the sale. Once a charity sells your car, they will send you the receipt of the purchase, indicating the amount you can claim on your deduction. This receipt must contain the following information:

  • The gross proceeds from the sale
  • The date the car sold
  • A statement that says that your deduction can’t exceed the gross proceeds
  • A statement that says the car was sold between unrelated parties in an arm’s length transaction

Your chosen charity must provide you with the receipt and statements within 30 days after the car sold.

If your chosen charity doesn’t sell donated cars as part of its mission, you can use your car’s fair market value. You will use this same method to value your car if the charity donates your car for less than it’s worth or intends to use your vehicle. If your car qualifies under one of these circumstances, you will need a statement from your chosen charity verifying the use of your car.

Keep in mind that you are responsible to provide documentation if the IRS decides to audit your donation.

Complete Necessary Paperwork

One of the most common situations that the IRS chooses to audit is no-cash donations, which are donations that don’t involve giving money. Donors should keep detailed documentation as evidence after they donate a car.

Every donor will need to document the following information:

  • The name and address of the chosen charity
  • The date the vehicle was donated
  • A description of the vehicle
  • An acknowledgement from the charity

In addition to this documentation, people who donate cars that are worth more than $500 also need to fill out Form 8283, Section A. If a car is worth more than $5,000, the donor needs to fill out Form 8283, Section B. Cars that are worth more than $5,000 and meet one of the exceptions listed above will also need a written appraisal.  

Transfer the Title

The IRS usually recommends that donors personally transfer the title of car to the charity to avoid any confusion in the future. Most states require an individual to fill out a form through the state’s department of motor vehicles. This department will provide the donor with a statement that proves that the vehicle was donated.

Before you give your car to the charity, remove the license plate to avoid any potential liabilities. Also, make a copy of the car’s title for your records, and take pictures of your car before the donation.

Once you are ready to donate your car, ask the charity you’ve selected if they offer a towing or pickup service. If not, consider driving your car to the charity. You can help the charity save money on the donation by avoiding pickup or towing services.  

If you need assistance donating your car, the IRS does provide help. Visit www.irs.gov for more information regarding vehicle donation. Most charities also provide assistance to donors. Consult the charity you’ve selected if you have further questions about donating your vehicle.


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7 Steps to Prepare Your Car for Donation

8/11/2016


Vehicle donation represents one of the best ways to dispose of a car that no longer works for your lifestyle or needs without creating unnecessary waste. While the requirements for each form of donation differ, you can take these seven steps to prepare your car (and yourself) for the donation.

1. Check Your Charity’s Requirements
A charity which refurbishes and resells car parts will have different requirements than an automotive school. Check with your charity to get a checklist of any paperwork, repairs, and preparations required. You’ll find many common requirements on this list. However, it’s always a good idea to go over your charity’s policies so you know how the car will be transported, what paperwork to expect, and how your car will be used.

2. Find the Title and Prepare the Paperwork
Regardless of charity type, you will likely need to produce the title before donating the car. Put together a folder of important paperwork, including the title, title transfer form, and any accident history for the vehicle. If you still make payments on your car, you must complete a lien release form to transfer the loan to your charity. Check with your organization to see if they accept cars with liens on them. Fill out your paperwork carefully, as the DMV does not accept title forms with errors.

3. Have a Basic Checkup
If you are donating directly to a church or a person in need, consider having a basic inspection performed. Check the condition of basic components, such as the windows, wipers, lights, brakes, and tires. Double-check the condition requirements of your charity, and make any repairs accordingly. While many scrap charities take inoperable vehicles, charities that provide second-hand vehicles to those in need may ask you to perform simple maintenance tasks beforehand if you can.

4. Perform Any Needed Cleaning
Similarly, evaluate the cleanliness of your car and the purpose it will serve after donating. If you’re donating to a local cause, consider performing some standard cleaning before turning your car over. Remember, you do not need to deep-clean the vehicle unless required by the charity. Many organizations, such as automotive schools, perform and teach these cleaning methods after you donate the car.

5. Put Any and All Keys Together
For many car donation charities, all you need to donate is the car, the title, and the keys. Put all the keys you have, including a remote key fob if you have one, together on a single key ring. To help you keep track of the keys, keep them in the same place as your paperwork.

6. Remove All Personal Belongings
The last thing your charity wants is to end up with a pair of your sunglasses and a pack of gum along with your car. During your cleaning, give your car a once-over to ensure that you have removed all personal items. Be sure to check under the seats, floor mats, and dashboard for any hidden personal items.

7. Wait Until After the Donation to Cancel the Insurance
Your last step when donating a car is canceling the insurance. While the title still belongs to you, you should maintain your usual insurance to avoid any legal complications. Do not remove your license tags or cancel your insurance until you drop your car off or have your car picked up and the transfer is complete. Return your tags to your local DMV along with the relevant paperwork. Questions about our donation program? Contact a staff member here at the Newgate School to get answers to your specific questions. Perform these tasks so that when you donate your vehicle, you can do so without wondering if you left something behind or neglected to finish a piece of paperwork.


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