Donating a Boat to Charity

Thinking about donating your old boat? It can be a great way of turning that hopeless vessel into a gift that can help others but it’s not an easy process if you don’t do your research. First make sure the charity you have chosen is a qualified organization for the donation. If in doubt check IRS Publication 78 at To obtain the fair market value you will probably want to do a survey by a qualified surveyor. It may also be determined by asking a broker to analysis the current market and research the prices that this particular model is selling for. For boats with a value greater than $5000, an appraisal from a surveyor is required. When choosing a charity make sure the charity is engaged in activities that include the use of boats, such as a boating school, marine research organization, or youth groups like the Boy Scouts. When you donate your boat, the charity must, within 30 days of the contribution date, provide you with a 1098-C form and written acknowledgement. The 1098-C form must indicate that the vessel will not be sold prior to significant intervening use or material improvement (box 5a checked). Also the charity must provide the Donee Acknowledgement (part IV) of IRS Form 8283. You (the donor) must submit this with your tax return when claiming the deduction. This must indicate the donated property will not be used for an unrelated use. If the charity sells the boat in less than three years from the date of donation, the charity is required to file IRS Form 8282, which informs the IRS of the sale price of the boat and what usage the boat was put to. Contacting an IRS specialist prior to donating a boat may help clarify whether the intended use will be adequate to substantiate a fair market value donation. Donating your boat is an excellent way of giving to a favorite charity but a little research and the advice from a qualified tax professional may be needed.