Aircraft Donation FAQ's

Step by step guide on how to donate aircraft to charity

Jet Aircraft, Helicopter and Airplane Donation FAQs

Throughout the journey of life, most people begin acquiring assets as long term investments, intending to reap some sort of return on investment that seems acceptable. As time goes on however, our priorities change or the assets begin to become more of a financial burden than the value they hold. Aircraft is no exception to this rule, and as the aircraft ages, depreciation is exhausted, or you simply lose the interest or physical capability to fly that you once had. If you are interested in learning how an aircraft donation can benefit you, as well as those in need, please read the frequently asked question guide below to making an aircraft donation.

Aircraft donation is the act of donating your aircraft to our IRS approved 501(3) nonprofit charity, instead of continuing to store it in a hangar, paying monthly storage fees and insurance. Single or multi-engine airplanes and helicopters that were purchased years ago for yourself, your family, or your business, now have the opportunity to help people in need across the United States.

  • Has the value of your aircraft substantially decreased from when you purchased it?
  • Is your aircraft currently costing/losing you money every month it’s not in the air?
  • Do you have major inspections that need to be completed, is it time for a TBO, and you shudder at the rising labor rates for a qualified aircraft mechanic?
  • Have you had your aircraft for sale for months, with little interest?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, please consider aircraft donation as a viable option. In addition to the aid you would be providing to assist individuals in need, you also receive lucrative tax benefits from making a charitable aircraft donation contribution. If you are getting ready to upgrade your aircraft, if your aircraft is just sitting not being used, or perhaps your flying days are behind you, aircraft donation is a quick, easy way to eliminate the financial liability that comes with owning an airplane.

While it may seem complicated, aircraft donation is a simple and straight-forward process when you are working with an experienced charity like us. Our team will assist you throughout the entire donation process to ensure all paperwork is handled correctly, and your donation is maximized to its full potential. Whether you are seeking to offset your income tax, remove a plane from your books, or you simply want to do a good deed and donate to a worthy cause, our 501c3 nonprofit charity is here to help!

In most cases, our 501c3 nonprofit is able accept virtually all types of aircraft. The most common types of donated aircraft are:

  • Experimental Aircraft – Most homebuilt aircraft, many of which are based on conventional designs and are in the experimental category only in name because of certain restrictions in operation. Giving Center accepts all types of experimental aircraft, even if they are not yet completed.
  • Ultralight Aircraft – In the United States, ultralights are described as “ultralight vehicles” and not as aircraft. They are not required to be registered, nor is the pilot required to have a pilots certificate. We accept all types of ultralight aircraft donations.
  • Single Engine Prop Plane – An aircraft that is powered by a single propeller
  • Multi-Engine Prop Plane – An aircraft with two or more engines providing power to propellers
  • Helicopter – A helicopter is a type of aircraft that uses rotating, or spinning, wings called blades to fly. Donating a “chopper” is a great way to save big on your taxes.
  • Piston Aircraft – They have one or more piston-powered engines that are connected to the propellers.
  • Turboprop Aircraft – These resemble piston aircrafts but are much larger. This aircraft has one or more gas turbine engines. Turboprop airplanes can fly at altitudes of 35,000 feet, often for 600 to 1000 miles in a single flight.
  • Jet Engine Aircraft – A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines, typically achieving maximum efficiency at speeds close to or even well above the speed of sound.
  • Seaplane/Floatplanes/Flying Boats – A seaplane is a powered fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. Seaplanes are usually divided into two categories based on their technological characteristics: floatplanes and flying boats; we accept both types.
  • Classic Aircraft – An aircraft of an obsolete type which has been preserved beyond its normal life. These include antique, classic, heritage, historic, veteran or vintage aircrafts. Antique and vintage aircraft donations result in lucrative tax
    benefits.
  • Aircraft Parts / Tools – Spare parts, flying gear, and aviation specialty tools are all accepted as charitable gifts.

Giving Center is able to accept aircraft in virtually any condition, including kit planes that are not yet completed. Please feel free to reach out to us toll free at 888-228-7320 and provide us all information on the current state of completion that the kit plane is in, and whether you have the remaining parts for it.

While there are many organizations out there that do need an aircraft to further their charitable mission, many of these charities are also not equipped to handle the logistics of such a large donation. Giving Center is a leading charitable organization in aircraft donations with extensive knowledge of how to maximize the value of a donated airplane. As often assumed, most less-experienced charities will promptly sell donated aircraft to fund their operations, however this comes at a cost for the well-meaning donor.

Giving Center operates nationwide, in all 50 states. In addition, after you submit your form online, you will be assigned to one representative who will handle processing your donation from start to finish. We have in-house experts in aviation, pilots and training instructors that are standing by to walk you through all FAA paperwork, and answer any questions that you have.

Whether you have an experimental aircraft, helicopter, or a private corporate jet you are looking to donate, Giving Center is equipped to handle any aircraft, located anywhere in the world, while walking you through how to maximize and protect your tax deduction.

The short answer, is yes you can donate your aircraft without logbooks.
In order for the plane to be legally airworthy with the FAA, you must be able to prove that all airworthiness directives (AD’s) have been complied with and that the aircraft is within annual (or 100 hour) inspection; the history of the aircraft is typically found in the logbook. Without the logbook your aircraft is legally not airworthy. It may still be possible to fly the plane legally in the US if you receive authorization from your US Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) in the form of a “ferry permit”, but the aircraft value will be significantly diminished without the documentation that the logbook provides.

While it is not required to have completed logbooks from the time the aircraft was first sold and flown, incomplete logbooks are very detrimental from resale point of view. Not having complete logs will make an aircraft very difficult to sell and will negatively affect the price most purchasers would be willing to pay. Due to the resell price being lower, you can expect to see lower appraised values as well compared to aircraft with complete logbooks, but these values are often still higher than a cash purchase price. This makes aircraft donation a lucrative alternative to selling without or with incomplete
logbooks.

Every charitable organization is different, and this is an important question to ask them before you donate your aircraft. In most instances, the charity will sell the aircraft as it sits, in order to raise funding for the programs that they offer. Generally, the sale of an aircraft fetches more funding than donors offer in cash donations, or even through the sale of other items that charity accepts such as cars and boats. Giving Center is able to trade your aircraft for cash, which funds programs that we have to provide computers, cars, housing, and various other tangible items to veterans, students, senior citizens, victims of domestic violence who have relocated, and countless other individuals that are in need all across the United States.

In other instances, the charity may repair, refurbish, or restore the donated aircraft, when it makes economic sense to do so. If the aircraft needs to be overhauled, inspected, or repaired, it sometimes makes sense for the charity to complete these repairs so that they can sell it at a higher value. When this happens, the resale price of your donated aircraft increases, allowing you as the donor to take a higher tax deduction than if the aircraft was sold in the same condition it was donated in.

The last option is that aircraft is retained by the charity for use within its program for at least 36 months. Antique or classic aircraft are often restored if not already completed, and displayed at a variety of air shows to raise awareness for the act of donating to charity. This is not limited to antique or classic aircraft, but virtually any aircraft in good cosmetic condition. Retaining the aircraft allows the donor to use a full appraised value of the aircraft as the basis of their tax deduction, and is the highest tax deduction allowed by the IRS. Giving Center is committed to retaining as many aircraft as possible, to protect our donors and maximize their tax benefits.

When interviewing charities to donate to, it is important to ask if they can offer an appraised value tax deduction based on significant intervening use. We have heard many horror stories where a charity will offer an appraised value deduction, but once the donors transfers the FAA paperwork to the charity, they instead fire sell the aircraft. This results in an amendment to your tax documents, and makes you liable for the difference between the appraised value and the actual sales price the charity sold the aircraft for, if the sale occurs within 36 months of being donated. Giving Center is a national organization with charity partners, volunteers, and great working relationships with countless airports and hangers across the United States to ensure that your donation and tax deduction are maximized and protected.

Regardless of what the end result of your aircraft is, all aircraft donations are extremely valuable to Giving Center. Proceeds raised from the sale of a donated aircraft are directed to providing assistance to hundreds of people that write into us every day requesting some sort of assistance.

We are often asked by callers why they should donate their aircraft instead of selling it. The answer to this question is just as varied and different as the people that call in. Some of the reasons you may want to donate:

  • There has been a significant decrease in the aircraft’s market value
  • You are looking for significant tax savings. If you landed in a higher tax bracket and are looking to reduce your taxable adjusted gross income, an aircraft donation provides just that. Selling the aircraft would increase your AGI, but donation reduces it.
  • You no longer fly your aircraft, but are still paying fees at a hanger to store it, insure it, and maintain it. Donating your aircraft immediately relieves you of paying those monthly fees, without having to wait for the aircraft to sell.
  • Your aircraft is due for an annual inspection, or a complete overhaul, which just doesn’t fit into your budget anymore. Perhaps you Aircraft is grounded (AOG) due to an inability to pass inspection.
  • Donating your aircraft to Giving Center resolves you of the financial liability that your aircraft has become, while providing much needed assistance to those in need.
  • Donating your aircraft eliminates the need and expenses required to list it somewhere for sale. Whether you choose to list it with a broker and pay commission fees, or list it yourself and pay a listing fee, aircraft donation is a free, fast, and easy alternative.
  • You are looking to make a difference in this world. Few people ever have the opportunity to own an aircraft, and many of our donors wish to share their blessings with those less fortunate.
  • Donating an aircraft allows Giving Center to turn that aircraft into funding to help further community programs and provide housing, vehicle, and computer assistance to countless individuals who often just need one good deed to get back on their feet.
  • You simply want the aircraft off your books, and are looking for a fast, free way to do that.

This section is not intended to be used as tax advice. Please consult with your CPA or tax preparer about how an aircraft donation will benefit your specific financial situation.

The IRS tax code allows donors to deduct contributions to qualified charitable organizations, and in most cases, when donated to a knowledgeable nonprofit organization, your tax deduction can be significantly higher than the amount you would receive from the sale of your airplane.

The IRS has very specific guidelines on establishing a value for your aircraft donation. It is very important to understand that regardless of which charity you elect to make your donation to, the charity is not able to value your aircraft donation or determine the amount you are able to deduct prior to donating. Generally, the value of your tax deduction will be equivalent to the fair market value of the aircraft, which is determined by sales price that the charity sells the aircraft for, in an arm’s length transaction to an unrelated party. A majority of charities use this option, fire selling your aircraft at auction or to the first person that makes an offer.

Giving Center offers an alternative to a sales price, and instead is able to honor an appraised value tax deductible amount instead. If you have recently had your aircraft appraised, please let us know so that we can walk you through how to claim an appraised value versus a sales price. This is obtained through an agreement between our donors and Giving Center, that the aircraft will not be sold for a minimum of 36 months, but instead will be retained by our charity or gifted to another non-profit, for significant intervening use. Since no sale has occurred, the tax deductible amount defaults to the appraised value instead of a sales price.

In order to ensure you receive the highest donation amount possible, make sure you are working with a qualified organization. Some of the things you may want to look for:

  • Does the charity specialize in aircraft donations, or are they a third party organization that processes high volumes of donated items at auction? Some organizations contract out all donations, which means you may not have access to the same person from start to finish, and the charity may not know where in the donation process your aircraft is.
  • Make sure that the charity has qualified pilots that can process your aircraft donation, and knows how to handle your aircraft appropriately. Giving Center has actual pilots who process your aircraft donation, so you aren’t having to explain to them what log books are or how to complete transfer paperwork.
  • Is the charity connected in the industry? Giving Center can often refer you to certified appraisers to help you maximize your donation value and offer you the highest tax incentive allowed by law. We can also recommend if you only need a desktop appraisal, or if it makes more sense to have a full physical appraisal completed. In addition to appraisers, Giving Center has relationships with hangars and airports across the United States, and we have the ability to move your aircraft out of your hanger space and into one of our own.

You can find more information about valuing donations directly on the IRS website by reading Publication 561 (Determine the value of donated property).

Giving Center will walk you through all paperwork that is needed in order to complete your donation. These forms may include:
An Aircraft Registration Application, AC Form 8050-1
Evidence of ownership (such as one or more bills of sale)
the $5.00 registration fee made payable to the Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA requires that the Aircraft Registration Application must include the typed or printed name of each signer with their signature in the signature block. In addition, each signer must also show their title as appropriate to their position to sign for the applicant, ie. Individual owner, co-owner, partner, managing member; or corporate officer: like president, vice president, secretary, or manager.

Since all donations are different, you may not need to get an appraisal. If you have questions regarding your specific aircraft and whether you would benefit from hiring an appraiser, you can call us at (888)-228-7320 and speak directly to one of our representatives.

To maximize your tax deduction, Giving Center does encourage all donors to retain an appraisal of their aircraft prior to donating. This ensures that the donor has the appropriate valuation to provide the IRS should the charity retain and utilize the donation for more than 36 months. Simply speaking, without a sales price from the charity, the IRS will require an appraisal for you to take your tax deduction.

Appraisals must be completed by a qualified, certified appraiser no more than 60 days before the donation it made. When you file your income tax return (Form 1040 or Form 1040X), the appraiser will need to complete Section B of Form 8283, and attach it to your return. Giving Center will also need to sign the Form 8283 to certify that the aircraft was received as a donation. Don’t worry, we will explain everything during your aircraft donation and guarantee this will be as stress free as possible..

There are two types of aircraft appraisals that satisfy the requirements for the IRS. Both are completed by certified appraisers, who must sign the IRS form 8283.

Desktop Appraisal
A desktop appraiser is one in which the appraiser is able to make a valuation based on photos and log books of the aircraft. They review your aircraft and then review market data for aircraft similar in make, model, year, age, and condition. The appraiser will also evaluate where the market has been trending as well as average days on market. The appraiser will evaluate an individual aircraft to see where it stands within the maintenance schedule compared to comparable aircraft for sale, as this gives a more accurate assessment of value.

This is especially important for turboprops and light jets. Is the aircraft due for maintenance in the near future? Is the aircraft engine on a regular maintenance schedule or program? A certified appraiser will look at the entire market, review the logbooks and specifications of the aircraft, but never physically inspects the aircraft. The cost of a desktop appraisal is typically between $400 to $600.

Physical Appraisal
A physical appraisal is the most invasive and comprehensive—similar to a pre-buy inspection. The appraiser physically travels to the airplane, opens panels, thoroughly examines all the engine logs and maintenance logs, and takes a careful look at all
aspects of the aircraft. This type of appraisal is recommended for truly unique aircraft, and larger aircraft such as jets. A physical appraisal will identify any items needed attentions, and call out any upgrades or custom aftermarket work that has been completed. Cost of a physical appraisal is usually between $2,000-$4,000, and can take several weeks to complete based on the appraiser’s schedule.

Yes, Giving Center does accept all types of aircraft parts, tools, avionics and aviation gear. Please be sure to provide us with an inventory list of the items you would like to donate, along with the condition, and one of our representative will contact you to schedule a pickup. Donate Aircraft Parts

Are you ready to donate aircraft?

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We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give..

AircraftDonation.org was started as a funding project for Giving Center (EIN# 46-1883892), an IRS-approved 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that operates nationwide. Giving Center was created to help bridge the gap between those in the community who have the means and wish to help, with those who are in dire need of a helping hand and a little grace. We have a team of professional pilots and individuals with both the technical and legal experience to assist you in the donation of your aircraft.

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