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Proceed with caution on car gifts

November 16, 2005|Washington Post

Donating your old clunker is not as enticing a prospect this year as in years past because of changes in the tax law. But despite the less-generous tax deduction and the more cumbersome paperwork, there are people who will still opt to donate rather than resell or junk entirely.

And those donors still have to exercise caution.

Donors have reported getting hit with traffic tickets resulting from sloppy follow-through or intentional lawbreaking after they have turned over the cars.

There are also scammers, often unscrupulous tow-truck operators and garage owners, who have been known to buy donated cars, not register them and then bill the former owners months or even years later for "storage."

Among precautions to take:

* Fill in the name and address of the charity under the "Assignment of Ownership" section of the vehicle title, just as if you were selling it.

* Keep photocopies of all paperwork.

* Record the odometer mileage on the certificate of title.

* Do not leave the license plates on the car. Remove them and return the tags to the motor vehicle authority.

* Get and keep a receipt for the returned plates.

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