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Titling a Gifted or Donated Vehicle

Gifted vehicles are something that we don't deal with often at CADA, since they're mostly individual to individual transfers. Oftentimes, when issues do arise, they are on out of state transfers. But, I've just worked through a transfer with an out of state dealer and thought this may benefit anyone else who stumbles up on the issue at their dealership.


There are two main issues in "gifting" or "donating" a car. The first is titling, the second is taxes. Since titling is done at the state, the procedure is fairly uniform. However, since all counties and home rule cities have an interest in tax dollars being collected on a sale - which an improper gift or donation becomes - you will need to check in with your county to see if there are any location specific procedures.


The basics of titling are fairly straight-forward. The beneficiary/new owner will need a properly endorsed title, a secured and verifiable identification, proof of insurance, odometer reading, and VIN verification form to your local DMV. For gifts from out of state donors, you will also need an emissions test.


The city of Denver has the most complete web page on this topic for all of the counties. You can find it at https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-motor-vehicle/title-services/transfer-title-to-new-owner/gifting-or-donating-a-vehicle.html.


One final note: if the car you are gifting to a child or friend still have an active loan on it, you need to consult with your CPA. This becomes a more difficult tax questions. Also, any vehicle with a value over the annual exemption (15,000 dollars in 2019) will require a filing with the IRS and may have long-term gift tax implications.

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