Paradise Survivors: A 6-Month Update

The California wildfires were devastating and affected the lives of thousands. It’s been six months since the fires started in Plumas National Forest and spread across 20,000 acres of land. Residents had to evacuate and were in a state of emergency. Besides all the emotional pain each resident had to go to they also lost their homes, more than 6,700 homes were burned and destroyed. This fire set the record for California’s most destructive fire. How are the survivors doing? It’s still a huge struggle.

Thousands of residents were displaced, homes burned down, and left with nothing. Many survivors remain in rentals until they figure out their next steps and options. Others are still in emergency housing and government trailers. Residents are waiting for insurance money, trying to rebuild, or looking for a new place to live. These things take lots of time, money and energy. There are also many residents living in homeless camps in the southern city limits of Santa Rosa.

The only option is to start over completely. Furniture, vehicles, precious memories are gone forever. Some homes can’t even be rebuilt because the damage is so bad. Living in a rental is not the same as home. Trying to buy a new home is expensive, paperwork and applications take time, and there is no guarantee they will get the home they want. Only a handful of residents have been able to rise from the ashes and start a new life moving forward.

There have been less than 100 building permits issued since the fires when thousands of buildings were burned down. They are struggling to find time, money, and workers to rebuild what was lost. More than 40% of the homes that burned were not insured either. Those who lived paycheck to paycheck had to move somewhere else that had cheap rent so they could get by. The average local-area rent price has gone up 30% since the fires making it less affordable to more people. Those who couldn’t find a new place or family to stay with ended up in temporary housing from FEMA. The biggest colony of survivors is in the Sonoma County Fairgrounds RV park where 100 new trailers were brought in and filled up completely. These trailers are part of the disaster recovery effort and provided 400 residents with housing up to 18 months.

There has been a resilient permit center opened separately for the fire survivors who are trying to rebuild their homes. Officials have lowered fees for this center with promises to issue building permits a week after application so survivors can start building a new life. In the fire-prone areas, it’s now required to have fire sprinklers installed.

It’s going to take time to rebuild what was lost and the mourning over the lives lost will forever continue. A majority of survivors are still fighting the battle and trying to figure out how to start over. If you can help in any way, please do. Survivors continue to need our support.

How Do Charitable Acts Help Your Taxes? Giving Matters to You, Too!

It feels good to give!

Taxes and giving: what do these two things have to do with one another? Well, indeed there are many ways taxes and giving relate to one another, especially when it comes down to the individual. There are many reasons people give to charitable organizations, and though it shouldn’t be the main reason, receiving tax incentives is a wonderful benefit for the individual taxpayer.

In 2016, 36.95 million tax returns claimed charitable contributions. What does this mean for those taxpayers? Well, it means that throughout the year, when folks have planned or spontaneous desires to give cash or non-cash items, they receive a receipt. The importance of that receipt is, as with anything with our taxes, to be able to provide proof of the gift and its value.

Breaking it down:

Noncash donations —

  • Donations up to $250 in value, all that’s needed is the receipt for the charitable donation deduction.
  • Contributions over $250 but no more than $500 requires a detailed, written acknowledgment from the organization; it must include: name and address, the date and location of contribution, description of the donation, and an estimate of the item’s value,
  • Donations over $500 but no more than $5,000 require the above information ($250-$500) as well as the records of how you acquired the noncash item, such as how much you paid for it.

Car donations —

Some steps need to be considered when donating a car because it depends on the vehicles selling price from the organization, or if it’s not sold, by the fair market value:

  • Step 1: Determine how much the car was sold for by the charity, but if it’s sold significantly below market value, you can use the fair market value.
  • Step 2: Determine the car’s fair market value, and it’s important to use a reputable used-car price guide so you can calculate if you need to use the fair market value.
  • Step 3: Claim the deduction on line 17 of Schedule A.
  • Step 4: additional forms that are needed include:

Form 8283 Section A for car donations $501 to $5,000

Form 8283 Section B for car donations over $5,000 and this section requires a written appraisal as documentation.

How do these cash and noncash donations help charitable organizations? Nonprofits have three primary funding sources: fees charged, government grants, and charitable giving. So, the giving, especially of unrestricted cash donations, is extraordinarily important, thus fulfilling for the giver.

How exactly do these deductions help you, the taxpayer? The IRS allows the deduction for taxpayers that are filing their return with an itemized deduction schedule, and a deduction lowers the amount of taxable income before taking into account your tax liability.

Some websites and organizations exist to help you responsibly learn about, make, and track your charitable donation deductions throughout the year:

Charity Navigator: A charity navigator that provides information to guide responsible giving with details on the Financial Health, Accountability, and Transparency of over 9,000 charities, as well as basic information on the other 1.8 million U.S. nonprofits. Charity Navigator is itself a 501 C 3.

Better Business Bureau Give.Org: An organization that evaluates charities based on governance and oversight, measuring effectiveness, finances, and solicitations and informational materials. This also helps to provide reports so donors can make informed decisions with the donations.

IRS and Charitable Contributions: The IRS has information surrounding utilizing charitable deductions, from the most basic to more detailed information.

When taking into account your decision to make charitable donations, don’t forget to check the boxes to make sure that your charitable donation deductions will be able to be utilized. Always do your research, and feel good knowing where your gifts are going and how they can also benefit you!

If you’d like to donate your car to help someone recover from the Paradise fire or another valued non-profit, reach out to cars2ndchance@gmail.com to donate a car that runs and clunkers4charity@gmail.com to donate a vehicle that does not. Check out their respective websites https://cars2ndchance.org/ and https://clunkers4chari.wpengine.com/. The organization has received 30 cars for the Paradise survivors, but they need more, as you can well imagine.

Our partner: First Presbyterian Church of Concord

children-rebecca1We are proud to be partners with the First Presbyterian Church of Concord, who has given so much to our community and continues to look for new ways and new means to help our community and beyond.  The First Presbyterian Church Concord is located in downtown Concord near Todos Santos Plaza.

FPCC was the first Protestant church in Concord, founded on October 14, 1882. The years have seen many changes to both Concord and FPCC. During this time FPCC has met in 5 different buildings, and while other churches have moved further out and new churches have been founded in the community, FPCC has remained one of the few downtown churches in Concord.

FPCC helps provide support to the following organizations in order to reach out to our community:

> Young Life – An international Christian youth organization whose primary focus is to reach out to young people who are not part of a local church. Young Life in the Diablo Valley has Young Life Clubs at several high schools and middle schools, but our primary focus is in Concord.

> Contra Costa Interfaith Council – The Interfaith Council provides Chaplains at the various youth detention facilities in Contra Costa County. We contribute towards this valuable service.

> Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana in Oakland / Premere Iglesia Concord Ministry – This small, but growing Spanish-speaking congregation in Oakland is reaching out to it’s neighbors. We are pleased with the opportunity to share with them.

> Bay Area Rescue Mission – This rescue mission has been in operation for many years in the Richmond area and now their outreach encompasses much of the Bay Area under the leadership of Directors John and Debra Anderson. They provide many services, like providing a hot meal for the homeless and poor, providing drug and alcohol rehabilitation for men, and transitional housing for families and women with children. They reach out to their community in a variety of ways and have recently developed an extensive ministry with children who live in the area.

There are many other missions FPCC is involved, as you can read here. Their continuous work of doing charity without expecting anything in return is what makes us so proud to be their partner. Join us!

6 reasons why charity is so rewarding

pexels-photo-13918-largeYou don’t need an excuse to give: you’re altruistic, generous and love others without expecting anything back. But sometimes we need a little incentive. Here are a few reasons:

  1. Be part of something greater than yourself: an ocean is made of little drops, and your contribution, together with many others can make a difference in this world. There are many other charities have opportunities so you can see how your small donation really does make a big difference, like Clunkers4Charity!
  2. Setting an example: children are most likely to repeat what they’ve seen while they were growing up. If you show them how to be generous and caring towards others, they will likely be like that in the future. If you involve your children in choosing charities, you will instill a desire to share and serve that will last throughout their lives.
  3. Join a cause: By volunteering, you have the opportunity to build your social circles while reaping the physical, mental and spiritual benefits from the labor you contribute to your favorite cause. You probably know people who run or bike a race to support a cause close to them. If you feel passionate about a cause like this, join a race or donate money or time.
  4. A grateful heart: The act of helping others can create an improved sense of well-being. Knowing that you sacrificed something such as time, finances or property in order to help others in need can give you a sense of purpose in life or work and inner satisfaction. As you give food to a local food bank, or write a check for an organization that helps people in need, you can’t help but feel thankful for the blessings in your own life.
  5. Social injustice awareness: You may discover new points of view and opinions on topics about which you were previously uninformed. This knowledge may position you to help increase the awareness of social problems among those in your sphere of influence from a balanced and educated standpoint.As a result, you become more educated about social injustices around the world.
  6. It’s tax deductible! Although this isn’t the main reason we’d suggest donating to charity, it is a nice bonus. Keep records of money or property you donate so you can itemize correctly on your tax forms. But not only is the money you give tax deductible, so are the amounts you spend on travel, parking costs and even convention and event fees that are related to the non-profit group, as long as you are not being reimbursed by the charity for these expenses.

Innovative Proceed-Sharing Campaign Expands

About Clunkers 50/50 Split Program

Dollarphotoclub_35680071Before a vehicle is donated, typically a person will go to this website’s Donation Form and fill out the information necessary to process the request.

There is one addition that many people may not be aware. It’s our 50/50 Split program. Here’s how it works:

A 501C3 non-profit meets with us and if the acceptance criteria is met, their non-profit is announced on this website and they are added to the Donation Form.

On the Donation Form is a field labeled, “Select A Recipient”. Currently 16 non-profits are participating in Clunkers4Charity!

Dollar Donation is Maximized

Let’s say a donated vehicle we take to auction collects $2,000.  If a non-profit Recipient was selected among the 50/50  Split participants, $1,000 would go to that charity and $1,000 to Clunkers4Charity and the Clayton/Concord Sunrise Rotary Club.

You may be curious how much I get for a tax write-off. In this case, it’s $2,000. Yes, that’s right, a $2,000 tax deduction.

Why Donate to Clunkers4Charity?

It’s simple — everyone benefits:  the local community, local and international charities and of course, your pocketbook! Contact us with your questions and requests for pick-up of a vehicle, running or not.