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Boat Donation | Pacific Marine Foundation

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Frequent questions
about boat donation

Pacific Marine Foundation receives many questions each year about the various aspects of the boat donation process. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers. We, of course, encourage you to consult with your legal and tax advisors about your individual situation.

  1. Doesn't donating a boat mean "giving it away"?
  2. How do I choose a charity to accept my donation?
  3. Why should I choose Pacific Marine Foundation?
  4. Are there any costs involved in donating my boat to Pacific Marine Foundation?
  5. How long does it take to complete a donation?
  6. Do I need a yacht broker to handle this for me?
  7. What is the difference between a "donation" and a "bargain sale"?
  8. What if I want to donate my boat, but I still owe money on it?
  9. Are boat donation programs legal?
  10. What potential problems could come up, and how do I avoid them?
  11. What types of boats make the best donations?
  12. How do I determine "Fair Market Value"?
  13. What do I need to do to start the donation process?


1. Doesn't donating a boat mean "giving it away"?
Absolutely not! Depending on a taxpayer's individual tax situation and how the charitable organization uses the donated property, some donors have actually received more bottom line cash benefits from donation vs. outright sale, based on tax dollars and related ownership and sales costs not paid. The primary, and most important, benefit goes to the programs supported by those charitable organizations.

2. How do I choose a charity to accept my donation?
There are many organizations soliciting vehicle donations these days, but only a few that have been in existence for more than a few years and have the experience necessary to structure your donation properly to secure the greatest tax benefit for you, while avoiding the pitfalls that could become problems in the future. When choosing an organization, be sure to find out how many successful donations they have completed, and always ask for references from previous donors. You'll also want to find out what groups are supported by the organization.

3. Why should I choose Pacific Marine Foundation?
Pacific Marine Foundation has managed hundreds of successful boat donations for clients over the past decade. With a team of volunteer and paid professionals on staff -- attorneys, accountants, financial and marine professionals -- Pacific Marine Foundation offers extensive experience in structuring donation programs for its long list of clients. To see what our clients say about us, click here! Pacific Marine Foundation supports a variety of youth programs. To see a list, click here!

4. Are there any costs involved in donating my boat to Pacific Marine Foundation? There are no costs involved in donating your property to Pacific Marine Foundation unless your donation is valued in excess of $5,000, in which case a "qualified appraisal" is needed. We can assist you in providing a list of surveyors or appraisers in your area, however, to avoid any potential conflict of interest, we do not choose the surveyor or appraiser for you and can not pay for that service. We may be able to use an existing survey or valuation provided it is no more than 60 days old. We work with you in every way possible to make the transaction and smooth and pleasant experience.

5. How long does it take to complete a donation? A donation can be completed in a matter of days. Once a Deed of Gift is signed and notarized, Pacific Marine Foundation takes over all of the responsibilities and worries of ownership.This can be a big plus when you consider the sales process can take as much as a year or more, costing you a lot of money in moorage, insurance and maintenance costs, not to mention the time and occasional frustrations in dealing with prospective buyers, sea trials, etc.

6. What is the difference between a "donation" and a "bargain sale"? A "donation" is a contribution in which the donor gives 100% of the property to the charitable organization. A "bargain sale" is when the donor sells part of the property to the organization for cash and donates the remaining amount of the "fair market value". A "bargain donation" in some cases can be arranged, making the contribution economically feasible.

7. What if I want to donate my boat, but I still owe money on it? In some cases, Pacific Marine Foundation may be willing to structure a "bargain sale" contribution such that the Foundation assumes the existing mortgage and you donate your remaining interest in the vessel.

8. Do I need a yacht broker to handle this for me? A yacht broker is not necessary in the donation process, however, if you already have a broker you trust and would like us to deal with them, we're happy to do that.

9. Are boat donation programs legal? Yes! Pacific Marine Foundation is an IRS-approved, publicly supported non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and has managed hundreds of charitable boat and property donations since it was established more than 10 years ago. The Foundation's proven experience in properly structuring donations protects you from any future problems.

10. What potential problems could come up, and how do I avoid them? All tax matters are subject to review ("audit") by the IRS up to three years after your tax return is filed. If your donation does not specifically abide by the current regulations and you do not have the proper supporting documentation, your deduction is at risk of being disallowed. That's the main reason to work closely with an experienced organization such as Pacific Marine Foundation and with your legal and financial advisors.

11. What types of boats make the best donations? One common misconception is that only old and dilapidated boats and properties are donated to charity. Not only is that untrue, it ignores the fact that in many cases, the donor can receive much greater tax benefits by donating arranging a "bargain sale" of a newer vessel. This can be particularly beneficial to businesses or professionals with high taxable income in high tax brackets. See some of our recent donations: Custom 85 Steel Trawler, President 50 Motor Yacht, Romsdal 65 North Sea Trawler.

12. How do I determine "Fair Market Value"? If your potential donation is worth less than $5,000, you can value the property yourself using various sources such as "blue books" and recent sale information. Donations valued at more than $5,000 must have a "qualified appraisal" done by a marine surveyor. In both cases, your deduction depends on whether the charitable organization sells the donated property or uses the property in its programs. If the property is sold within three years of the donation, your deduction is the gross sale proceeds received by the charity. If the property is held by the organization and used for at least three years, your deduction is the "fair market value" at the time of the donation.

13. What do I need to do to start the donation process? To further explore how you can benefit from donating your boat or property to Pacific Marine Foundation, please call or e-mail us, or you can complete our Donation Information Form. We will review your information and respond as quickly as possible.

Boat Donation Information

Recent Donations

Recent donation - President 50

President 50

Kong & Halvorsen Yacht

Kong & Halvorsen 57

Pro  Marine Houseboat

Pro Marine Houseboat 50


More client comments...

"Thank you PMF for your speedy response, and charting my client a smooth passage through the tax deductible donation process."

- Gordon Passey, Broker
Prestige Yacht Sales

"Very pleasant and easy to deal with."

-Roke C.

"Let me say that working with you and your organization has been a pleasure. The entire process was handled very professionally and (to my relief) very painlessly.

-Eric B.
San Francisco

"Fair and honest folks to work with. Great experience. I recommend them highly."

-Sea E.

"Thank you so much. This has been quite an ordeal for me on many planes... you and your charity, as well as the people you work with, have lifted a great burden from my heart and shoulders."

-Stephen J.



Pacific Marine Foundation, Inc. • 1900 W. Nickerson, Suite 116-218, Seattle, WA 98119-1661 • Phone: (206) 225-3360 • Fax: (206) 260-7519
Email: info[at]pacificmarine.org
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