Donate your car (or other vehicle) to COTAP!

COTAP has partnered with CARS!  Founded in 2003, CARS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and well-respected leader in the vehicle donation space that has supported over 3,500 nonprofits.  CARS accepts many different types of vehicles as noted in the “Important Notes” section below.  See below for two COTAP car donation case studies!

How it Works

  • Call CARS at 855-500-RIDE (7433) or complete the form at–COTAP
  • Provide COTAP’s IRS charity number 27-4220630.
  • Let them know whether you want your donation proceeds to go to:

    • Offsetting to all COTAP Projects (COTAP receives 10% of net proceeds),
    • Offsetting to one specific COTAP Project (COTAP receives 10% of net proceeds), or
    • COTAP’s operations (COTAP receives 100% of net proceeds)
  • That’s it…  CARS does EVERYTHING else, from vehicle pickup to donation receipt!
  • If you expect that your vehicle will sell for more than $500, please have your Tax Identification Number available so that CARS can prepare the IRS form 1098-C ($500 to $5k) or 8283 ($5k+) for you, as applicable.

Important Notes

  • For U.S. residents. Some areas of Canada are also eligible. For details, please contact CARS.
  • In addition to automobiles, CARS also accepts trucks, trailers, boats, RV’s, motorcycles, off road vehicles, heavy equipment and other motorized vehicles.
  • Vehicles do not have to be in operational condition.
  • Your ability to claim a 2020 tax year deduction depends on when you call or submit the online form, NOT when your car is picked up, sold, etc.  If you donate by December 31st 2020, you’ll have this info by the time you file your 2020 income tax return.
  • The value of your donated vehicle does not need to be established at the time of donation.
  • For tax purposes, please use receipts and donation value provided by CARS, not the offsetting acknowledgement and net amount received by COTAP.
  • CARS is partnered with many vehicle “auction houses” across the U.S.  Vehicles generally take between 4-13 weeks to be fully processed (from pickup to tax receipt).
  • If a CARS partner auction house determines that the highest bid is significantly below a vehicle’s value, then they reserve the right to reject the winning bid and auction the car again.
  • CARS’ partner auction houses typically take $80-$140 for towing/auctioning, and CARS takes 30% after that.
  • CARS’ percentage goes down to 25% after 50 cars are donated to COTAP, and down to 20% after 100 cars are donated.
  • Other questions?  Please see CARS’ FAQ and/or contact us at info at cotap dot org.

Case Study #1

On June 7th, 2020, a donor from Atlanta, Georgia called the above number and pledged to donate a 2013 Buick Encore with 190,879 miles on it.  They stipulated that the net proceeds go towards offsetting with our Uganda partner project – Trees for Global Benefits.  The car was picked up on June 10th and on June 18th it was sold at auction for $3,200.  Selling expenses were $70 for towing, $50 for auction fees, and $2.78 misc.  That left $3,077.22, 30% of which CARS charges as its fee.

On July 2nd, COTAP received payment from CARS for $2,154.05.  At our offsetting rate of $15/tonne, the donor is offsetting 143.603 tonnes to our partner project in Uganda, which will receive $1,938.65.

So, not only did the donor get rid of a car they no longer wanted/needed, they’ll also got a tax deduction (assuming they itemize!).  Further, they’re addressing their unavoidable carbon emissions, helping to restore landscapes in Uganda, and creating income for rural communities.

Speaking of carbon emissions, the 143.603 tonnes offset more than compensates for the carbon emissions generated by the donated car.  Plugging the above 190,879 miles and 25 mpg (we Googled it) into our calculator yielded 67.18 tonnes. In this example, the car donation is not only negating the tailpipe emissions for the original owner, but also the likely most if not all of the tailpipe emissions for the remaining life of the car!

Case Study #2

On May 31st, 2020, a donor from Glendale, Arizona pledged to donate a 2012 Ford Focus SE with 168,537 miles on it. They chose for the net proceeds go towards offsetting evenly across all COTAP projects. The car was picked up on July 6th and on August 22nd it was sold at auction for $2,400. Selling expenses for towing, auction, and DMV fees etc. totaled $145.78, which left $2,254.22, 30% of which CARS charges as its fee.

On September 17th, COTAP received payment from CARS for $1,577.95. At our offsetting rate of $15/tonne, this donor is evenly offsetting 105.197 tonnes across all of our partner projects in Nicaragua, Uganda, India, Fiji, Indonesia, and Mexico. That’s 17.53 tonnes and $236.69 per project.

As in the first case study, the donor got rid of an unwanted car, got a tax deduction, and addressed their unavoidable emissions. What’s different this time is that they are not just protecting/restoring forests and empowering rural communities in Uganda… they’re creating those benefits all over the planet!  Neither approach (one project vs. all projects) is better than the other, it’s just the donor’s preference on whether they want to focus their impacts in one region vs. “spreading the love.”

So, did this car donation offset fully compensate for 168,537 miles driven in a 2012 Ford Focus SE? We used 26 mpg, which is the lower end of the car’s fuel efficiency rating.  The result?  57.03 tonnes.  Similar to the first case study, this donation is not only compensating for the car’s tailpipe emissions for the original owner, but also for the tailpipe emissions for the remaining life of the car.

It’s Not Perfect… But What Is?

Like most things, this program is not perfect. A car that gets so-so gas mileage is still presumably on the road (unless it was auctioned for parts). In addition, the emissions above don’t include the “Life Cycle Assessment” (LCA) calculations which include CO2 emissions generated by the manufacturing of the car (which is why new Tesla license plates should say “Zero Tailpipe Emissions” instead of “Zero Emissions” – but that’s a conversation for another time!). Also, intermediaries claim a substantial amount of the net auction proceeds – CARS takes 30% and then COTAP takes another 10%. That said, CARS’ fee goes down to 20% over time, and COTAP’s margin’s are more transparent and modest than many other offset providers. And together the donor, CARS, COTAP, and our partner projects all come out ahead significantly and in ways that would not be possible without this very unique, meaningful, and symbiotic partnership!