Donating Your Boat
Ever Think About Donating Your Boat?
July 1, 2021
Why Waiting Until Year End Could Cost You
Single engine center-console boats wanted for on-water training programs.
Boat owners wishing to do good or take advantage of potential tax benefits may consider donating their boats to charity. Often this decision is made at the end of year just before the start of the new tax season. Waiting until the end of the year, however, could shortchange a boater's potential tax benefits, according to the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation and Boating Safety and Clean Water, which has decades of experience operating a successful boat donation program.
How can waiting to donate a boat until the end of the year potentially hurt you?
Most charities will sell your donated boat so they can receive the proceeds to fund operations and programs while you receive a federal tax benefit. However, the Internal Revenue Service bases the value of the charitable deduction on the actual selling price of the donated boat. This means both your and the charity's interests are aligned − the higher the price received on the sale of the boat, the more you stand to gain in tax benefits in the form of tax deduction.
"Notwithstanding the pandemic, more boats are sold now than at any time of the year," said BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water President Chris Edmonston, "With demand at the greatest, boaters are likely to have the best opportunity for maximum donation value."
Another reason why waiting until the end of the year may not be the best time to donate your boat is that the vessel may not sell until the following year, delaying potential tax benefits.
Unlike many charities that accept boats, the BoatU.S. Foundation also actively uses many donated boats for training purposes, such as teaching new boaters how to operate a boat. In some cases, donated vessels − typically single engine center-console types − are needed for Foundation on-water training programs. With these boats, the donor may use the surveyed value at the time of donation for tax purposes, and the write-off may be taken immediately.
Also, unlike other boat donation opportunities, the Foundation's program uses a partner broker to advertise the boat to help realize its highest value. The nonprofit also ensures that the donation process is hassle-free, from picking up the boat to handling the paperwork.
If you would like to tell the Foundation a little more about a gently used boat you may be considering donating, go to BoatUS.org/Donate/Boat-Donation. Also available are a helpful IRS brochure "A Donor's Guide to Vehicle Donation," IRS Publication 526 "Charitable Donations" and IRS rules for determining maximum deductions for charitable contributions. Always consult a tax professional regarding boat donations.