Did You KnowWhile many local organizations have developed individual programs to address alcohol and substance abuse among teens, a new collaborative effort brings several area groups together to face this critical issue as one. Initiated by Drug Free Collier and the Naples site of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the social norming campaign entitled “I’m Above Using” launched mid-September. The campaign aims to correct misperceptions that teens have about substance use among their peers.

The campaign focuses on the reality that four out of five Collier teens are not under the influence, according to the latest Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey. “It’s important for teens to know this positive statistic,” said Melanie Black, Executive Director of Drug Free Collier.

Overestimating or underestimating what our peers do can have negative consequences, Black said. When teens think everybody is using drugs or alcohol, it’s almost inevitable that more will. It’s these misperceptions that create more problems, she added.

To correct these misperceptions about drug and alcohol use among teens, Drug Free Collier and its partners have key information that will help set the record straight. “It’s our responsibility to continue to educate the community on all areas of substance abuse, treatment and recovery,” said Heather Burton, continuum coordinator at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “We need an ongoing, collaborative effort to help kids during adolescence where research shows it usually all begins.”

4 out of 5Posters, television and radio announcements and other marketing materials are being used to drive home the message to students and parents. The hashtags #ImAboveUsing and #DetermineUrDestination are incorporated into the social media campaign.

Over the summer, Drug Free Collier polled hundreds of Collier youth between the ages of 12 and 18 years old to select the creative direction and messaging that would resonate with them. The students’ input resulted in a targeted campaign that provides our youth with tools to make good decisions and to bring awareness to the importance of taking a positive direction in their lives by avoiding the dangers of using and/or abusing alcohol and other drugs.

“We are very concerned about the rising trends among teens in our community,” said Black. “We have lots of data on accident statistics and health consequences. But for teens, much of their influence comes from peers, and we want to let them know that for the most part, their peers are drug and alcohol free.”

The fact that 4 out of 5 teens do not use drugs or alcohol is great news for Collier County, Black said. “It should no longer be a well kept secret, but rather something to be celebrated each day throughout this campaign.”

Joining forces with partners like the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office shows how others in our community honor, respect and encourage our youth to continue making healthy choices.


Protecting Children from Substance Abuse! Drug Free Collier
is a coalition of concerned citizens working to protect children from
substance abuse. Established in 2005 with the help of key leaders in
our community, the local non-profit organization actively works on
solutions to reduce the tragic impact of adolescent substance abuse in
Collier County.
For help and information visit or or

Useful Technology Terms

It is easy to misinterpret some of the tech terms floating around web these days — but now more than ever, everyone needs to be familiar with this terminology as it becomes more useful when reading and talking about technology!


I am often asked about how to change an email address. Short for weblog, a blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. Blogs are defined by their format: a series of entries posted to a single page, usually in reverse-chronological order. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or reflect the purpose of the Web site that hosts the blog. Topics sometimes include brief philosophical musings, commentary on Internet and other social issues, and links to other sites the author favors, especially those that support a point being made on a post.


A bookmark (or a “favorite”) is a placeholder that you can use for web pages. You would bookmark something because:
1. You want to return to the page or file later
2. You want to recommend the page or file to someone else
Bookmarks/Favorites can be made using your right mouse click menu, or using the menus/toolbars at the top of your web browser.  Bookmarks/Favorites can also be made on your Mac or Windows computer files.


Cookies can be used for many things, but the simplest case is just remembering who you are. A cookie is nothing more than some information a website can save on your computer that your browser provides back to that same website the next time you return. Ever made
a return visit to a website like Amazon and seen content tailored to your user preferences? That’s because on your first visit, a cookie was installed. When you came back, the website server read your cookie and recognized you.


“Domain name server.” Servers that translates web addresses into one or more IP addresses. This is why you can enter instead of having to remember that the IP address is


Downloading is a broad term that describes when you make a personal copy of something you find on the Internet or World Wide Web. Commonly, downloading is associated with songs, music, and software files (e.g. “I want to download a new musical ringtone for my cell phone”, or ”I want to download the new version of iTunes”). The larger the file you are copying, the longer the download may take to transfer to your computer.


“Hyper-text markup language.” The language used to direct the architecture of any website, landing pages, and emails. HTML lays out the structure of a website, from the title and first header, to a bulleted list, to the footer.


“Internet Protocol address.” A numerical label assigned to each device participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for


“Internet service provider.” An organization (commercial, community-owned, nonprofit, or otherwise privately owned) that provides internet services.


Malware is a term for any software that gets installed on your machine and performs unwanted tasks, often for some third party’s benefit. Malware programs can range from being simple annoyances (popup advertising) to causing serious computer invasion and damage (e.g., stealing passwords and data or infecting other machines on the network). Additionally, some malware programs are designed to transmit information about your Web-browsing habits to advertisers or other third party interests, unbeknownst to you.


Phishing is very much like fishing, except that you’re the fish, and that threatening email is the bait. If you bite, you run the very real risk of account or identity theft and all the hassle that entails. Phishing is, essentially, an email message that tries to trick you into taking some action by fooling you into thinking that the message comes from someone official when it does not. Phishing is the use of convincing-looking emails and web pages to lure you into typing your account numbers and passwords/PINs. Often in the form of fake eBay web pages, fake PayPal warning messages, and fake bank login screens, phishing attacks can be very convincing to anyone who is not trained to watch for the subtle clues.

As a rule, smart users distrust any email link that says “you should login and confirm this”. Are you concerned that an email may be a phishing attempt? If so, just delete it! Or, go to the site in question manually. Use your own bookmark, or type what you know to be the correct URL into your browser, and log in to your account as you normally would.

If there’s something you need to do or verify, then you’ll probably see it then. And if you’re still not sure, then give the institution a call or contact their support line or search their support site. Trust me, they’d much rather have you ask than have to deal with the possibility of identity or account theft.


A software extension that adds a specific feature to an existing software application. You’ve probably heard of plugins in the context of web browsers to add new features like watching online videos, for example. Have you ever enabled Adobe Flash Player, Microsoft Silverlight or QuickTime Player on your internet browser? Those are plugins.


Social media is the broad term for any online tool that enables users to interact with thousands of other users. Instant messaging and chatting are common forms of social media, as are blogs with comments, discussion forums, video-sharing and photo-sharing websites. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all social media sites.


Take full advantage of tabbed browsing using any Internet browser. While reading an article or browsing a website, you may come across a link that interests you. Any link to another page can be opened in a new tab so it does not interrupt your reading. To perform this action, hold down the Ctrl key and left-click the link.


“Uniform resource locator.” Also known as a web address, a URL is a specific character string that refers to a resource. It’s displayed on the top of a web browser inside an “address” bar, such as

Jeff Bohr
Naples Mac Help
239.595.0482 |


Lobster Mashed Potatoes

One of America’s most treasured comfort foods assumes an elegant air when melded with buttery, rich seafood in the form of Shula’s Steak House Naples’s palate-pleasing Lobster Mashed Potatoes.

The luscious Lobster Mashed Potatoes are a delicious side dish that adds a special flair to any dinner entrée at Shula’s Naples location. You may be surprised by the simplicity of preparing this flavorful dish, which consists of lobster meat, a pan lobster sauce and of course, creamy mashed potatoes.


You start by placing 12 oz. of heavy cream in a small saucepan and bringing it to a simmer. Next, add in 40 oz. of mashed potatoes and stir until nicely combined. Once properly blended, add 1 oz. of lobster meat, season with 1 tsp. of kosher salt and place in a warm bowl. As the final step, top with another 7 oz. of lobster meat, ladle in 16 oz. of lobster bisque and stock, and garnish with 4 tbs. of finely sliced green onion.

Serve immediately after preparation and watch the smiles spread across every diner’s face as they experience the mouthwatering goodness of our Lobster Mashed Potatoes. Bon Appétit!

THE QUIET QUEST – Professionals Seeking Citizenship

Mike Reagen Citizen Member Editorial Board


Mike Reagen
Citizen Member Editorial Board

Note: Many of our well-educated foreign-born citizens who have studied and migrated here have powerful, varied stories and strong opinions.

We asked several who are Collier County citizens to share both.

We asked them why and how they came here and what advice they would give to others, including our policy makers.

Here goes:

Born: Laos. Today, VP, Position Logic, a division of
RacoWireless. Named twice in INC Magazine’s list
of top 500 entrepreneurs in the USA. RacoWireless
has 147 employees, 40 in its Position Logic
Division Office in Naples and 40 in its Dominican
Republic Office. 60 percent of these professionals
are foreign-born computer code experts.

Born in Zimbabwe. Today, Massage Therapist,
NCH’s Whitaker Wellness Center.

10,000 members during season belong to NCH’s
Wellness Centers where they enjoy in a variety of
services including 87 specially programs.


Born: Formerly East Germany. Today, retired
Business counselor (consultant) and former
Chairman, SCORE Naples, which covers Collier
County and Bonita Springs. This SCORE Chapter
has been consistently ranked among the 10 best
out of 350 in the USA because among others they
conduct (counsel) an average of 150 counseling sessions (business
clients) each month.

Born: Jamaica. Today, Director of Sales & Marketing, Inn on Fifth,
Naples. The Inn comprises two buildings with a total of 188,000
square feet. In 2013, 56,000 adults plus 8,000 children from across
the USA and overseas stayed at the hotel.

Born: Colombia. Today, international development consultant
specialized in program monitoring and evaluation. His clients
include the Inter-American Development Bank, the United
States Agency for International Development USAID, as well
as foreign governments, and non-profit organizations. From his
office in Naples he works in projects through Latin America and
The Caribbean. His community involvement includes business,
economic development, government, and public education. He
founded the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals CHBP, and
recently ran for the School Board of Collier County.

Born: Iran. Today, Rey Pezeshkan is Founder,
President and CEO of PK Studios, Inc., a planning
, architecture, interior design, graphics, construction
services firm in Naples, FL whose team of planners,
and architects have designed over 5,000 dwelling
units throughout Southwest Florida from high
rise construction, to multi-family and single-family planned

Born: Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). Today, with John
R. Wood Properties focusing on sales of Naples
luxury property including waterfront, beachfront
and golf course communities. A serial entrepreneur
and successful businessman, Rowan Samuel used
his 20 years as an advertising agency executive and
direct marketer to Co-Found the Naples International Film Festival,
one of Florida’s most vibrant and exciting new film festivals. “As a
first generation immigrant, my family lost everything as part of a
civil war in Zimbabwe. It took three years for us to get our Visas to
come to the US (legally). We were lucky in that we had family here
in the US who lobbied for us, helped with the paperwork and then
housed us until my parents got jobs with enough income to enable
us to move into our first home,” Samuel says.

Born: Turkey. Today, Aysegul Timur is a
Professor and Chair of Business Administration
and Public Administration Programs at the
Johnson School of Business, Hodges University.
A health economist specializing in statistics for
strategic planning, among other areas of expertise,
she has led several regional comparative analyses on best economic
development practices.

Next Month: Fleeing for Freedom: Get Prepared and Get Serious


William C HuffAdvertorial

by Jim Henderson
President of William C. Huff Companies and
national speaker for estate downsizing and lifestyle transitions

With the recent installation of our 137 kilowatt, direct current solar photo voltaic system, William C. Huff Companies is proud to announce that we have officially gone SOLAR!

As of November, our 34,000-square-foot Naples warehouse will now be cooled and powered by the sun. There will also be enough solar electricity to power a 10,000 square foot addition to our facility planned for the future. The solar panels and system will produce 214,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year equaling approximately 18,000 kilowatt hours each month. To date, this is the largest single-facility solar project in Collier County.

After working closely with solar energy expert, Neville Williams, who is also an author and the former CEO of Standard Solar, I came to the conclusion that there were more reasons to go solar than there were reasons not to. Since we are a full-service company specializing in complete personalized logistics support for high and ultra-high net worth homeowners, builders, designers, architects and estate managers, we felt it the right thing to do — we care about the environment and so do our clients.

Currently, most businesses and municipalities are more concerned with their ROI (return on investment) than with their impact on the environment. We calculate about a seven year payback on this investment and feel it is worth every penny spent.

Over the 25-year system lifetime, our company can expect to pay the equivalent of 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour for the installation which, after the 30 percent Federal tax credit, will cost approximately $245,000. This is less than current commercial electric rates and far less than residential rates which are currently around ten cents per kilowatt hour. The William C. Huff solar system will bring the company’s energy cost to net zero and the bill for power drawn from the electric grid at night will be offset by the solar system’s daytime electricity production.

This clean solar system will reduce William C. Huff ’s carbon footprint by approximately 3,500 tons over its lifetime. That’s a lot of CO2! It is my hope that other businesses within the community follow suit…it’s time to go green!

Community Impact – Hannah’s Story

Hanna and momHave you ever looked out of your window or strolled down the street and thought to yourself, wow, that is one happy all American family.

Chances are you have and you might even of had the privilege of knowing that family. The father may have helped your loved one in a crisis, the mother may have taught your 4th grader, your children may have participated in gymnastics class with the little girls. It is definitely a possibility that you have seen this family riding bicycles in your neighborhood or playing with their little dog. This is the Ahlquist family. Life was carefree and predictable until it wasn’t.

On April 5, 2015 this “normal” family of four loaded themselves and their dog into the car and set off to grandma’s house for Easter dinner.

No one could have predicted that when they drove through a green light an impaired driver would slam into the back of their vehicle changing lives forever. The direct impact hit exactly where Haley and Hannah, ages five and three respectively, were sitting. Even though the children were secure in their car seats both suffered whiplash. Haley had a massive concussion and a broken hand, whereas Hannah suffered from a spinal cord injury and is now a tetraplegic (also known as quadriplegia) with the inability to move from her arms down.

Both girls were air lifted to Lee Memorial Trauma Center where it was determined that the extent of Hannah’s injuries required her to be once again air lifted to Tampa General Trauma, who could better treat pediatric spinal cord injuries.

Hannah initially spent 1 1/2 months in the Pediatric ICU on life support when a problem developed and her lungs began to fill with fluid. Once that problem was managed she was able to have spinal fusion. With stabilization, she was transferred to Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia where state of the art pediatric spinal cord injuries is a specialty. Hannah spent four weeks there before returning to Naples. After three weeks she again returned to Philadelphia for intensive physical therapy and rehab. This is expected to be a back and forth trip every few months with ongoing therapy continuing here locally.

Currently Hannah cannot move her fingers, but has minimal arm movement even though they are extremely weak. Her entire body remains fragile and her three year old voice very soft. She can no longer sleep in her bedroom with her sister Haley because of all of the required medical equipment needed to take care of her. Her hospital bed is now in the family room which opens to the rest of the home so she can be a part of all of the activities, also enabling her parents and sister to keep an eye on her. Exorbitant medical expenses keep the family from reconfiguring space to make it handicapped accessible but there is hope that this is possible over a period of time.

Monthly expenses are staggering and the projected cost of lifetime care will be in the multimillions. As Hannah grows all of her adaptive equipment such as braces for her body, hands and legs, along with wheelchairs and a specialty mattress will need to be made larger. This tiny blond haired angel will continue to require medical care 24/7 for the rest of her life including travel to her specialty physicians and hospitals, since spinal cord injuries for her age group cannot be treated close to home.

Hannah was once a bouncy out going child, gymnastics, trampolines, bikes, swing sets or swimming. Her personality is more reserved and quiet at this point. Her sister and she are still best pals with Haley bringing her toys to play with her or just having girl talk. Hannah works on fine motor dexterity by using her hands working at a table on puzzles, play dough, or coloring. Haley and Hannah loved being in the pool and jumping anywhere, Hannah can still go to the pool but must be held when she is in the water, nothing is quite the same. The most important thing to Hannah is that she spend time with her family, and I suspect that this is their priority as well.

If you’re inclined to support Hannah on her long journey, her parents Jeff and Ana have opened a bank account in her name at Suncoast Credit Union. If you are willing to sponsor a fundraiser to benefit Hannah, please call Jeff Ahlquist at 239.596.4297, this family is extremely grateful for expressions of kindness. You can also be supportive by buying a “Hannah Band” to wear, for more information email

The Right Match: Software Enhances Fingerprint ID Process



A 17-year-old Golden Gate girl awoke to find a strange man in her bedroom last December.

The girl asked the man why he was there. Startled, he scurried out of her room, ran downstairs and out the house.

The girl and her family told Collier County Sheriff’s Office detectives they had no idea who would break into their house.

Detectives had no leads. Within two weeks detectives had a suspect, thanks to fingerprint evidence found at the scene.

Fingerprinting is one of the most important ways law enforcement identifies criminals, and the faster the better. Recent technology is helping CCSO get the job done more efficiently than before.

Traditionally, fingerprint examiners conducted an examination using a small magnifier called a loupe to view minute details, known as minutiae, of a print. A pointer called a ridge counter was used to count the friction ridges. In addition, CCSO fingerprint examiners are now using a computer software program that helps speed up the identification process.

The CSIpix software lets fingerprint examiners quickly compare two detailed prints side-by-side at the same scale on a computer monitor. The software is custom designed for forensic imaging with functions like autoscale and synchronized zooming plus comprehensive  annotation tools and standard enhancement features. It can significantly speed up the processing, calibration, comparison, and annotation of fingerprints and other forensic images.



Fingerprints are the little ridges on the end of your fingers and thumb. They are arranged in patterns of loops, whorls, and arches. No two people have exactly the same fingerprints. Even identical twins, with identical DNA, have different fingerprints.

Fingerprint examination involves looking at the quality and quantity of information in order to find agreement or disagreement between the unknown print from a crime scene and known prints on file.

After the Golden Gate break-in, Crime Scene investigators processed the house for evidence. A latent fingerprint was taken off the bedroom door handle. The ID Section took the print and ran it through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), a computer database that stores and retrieves fingerprint images. The print was searched against a database of millions of individual fingerprints. Within minutes, the AFIS returned information on the 25 closest matches to the print searched. Using the software, Certified Latent Print Examiner LeeAnn Whitney did a side-by side comparison on the computer of the print from the door handle to the first print received from AFIS to determine if there were similarities.

“Right off the bat those two (prints) looked very similar to me, just the overall pattern type,” Whitney recalled.

She also examined the print for minutiae characteristics and locations which make each person’s prints distinctive.

Satisfied there was enough information in both prints to match, Whitney called on another trained examiner to give her assessment. Latent Print Examiner II Tammy Taylor verified the print was a match. Detectives arrested an 18-year-old Golden Gate man and charged him with burglary. The young man attended the same high school as the victim.

The CCSO ID Section examines all fingerprint evidence collected in CCSO cases. Other, more complicated evidence, such as DNA, is sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab for examination.

Examining fingerprint evidence onsite allows for a more timely result compared to submitting prints to a lab, which can take weeks, said Lt. Scott Barnett, who has supervised the ID Section for the past 25 years.

“When we go to the AFIS and put these prints in we’ve actually called detectives back the same day and told them who the bad guy is,” Lt. Barnett said.

We make flights easy

Owners of Naples Air, Inc. Jon and Catherine Fay

Owners of Naples Air, Inc. Jon and Catherine Fay

by Catherine Fay,
Owner and VP

We are again in full swing in Southwest Florida and just want to take the opportunity to say, “Welcome Back Snowbirds and Visitors!” We’re excited to have you back with us. We, at Naples Air Inc. and Private Jets Inc., are dedicated to serving your air charter needs, for a planned trip or an unplanned one!

Whether you need to fly back to your home base for a few days, for the Holidays, an emergency, or fly family here for their much-anticipated warm weather vacation when the blustery snow falls, we can provide the perfect aircraft. We offer jets, turbo props, and piston aircraft for your convenience.

If a weekend getaway is in your plans, here are a few of the Florida and Bahamas destinations that make for a full day or multi-day trip:

  • St. Augustine is historical and interesting and is the oldest city in the US, and was “owned” by many countries before becoming part of our country. We can clue you in on why all of the windows in the oldest buildings are only six inches from the ground.
  • Key West is a only 100 miles directly south of Naples and only 39 minutes away by air! Find out why they allow chickens to roam free while enjoying restaurants and shopping. Lots to do here!
  • Titusville is home to the Space Center with tours and interesting exhibits for all those Space enthusiasts.
  • What restaurant north of Tampa won first place in the World Famous Soup Contest for their spicy Clam Chowder? We can take you there and share the answer.
  • Bahamas, say no more. When fishing is your passion, this is ‘THE’ place to cast your line. With literally hundreds of islands, some less than one hour away, you’ll find relaxation, gambling, nightlife, romantic deserted pink sandy beaches, and fresh fish caught the day it’s served! There are 20 airports of entry, where we clear Bahamian customs, and another 20 with airfields long enough for us to land. We make it easy!

Call us for all of your air charter needs! Flights to and from the North and the Midwest, and everywhere in between; or for emergencies, planned vacations and day trips — we are here to serve!

Naples Air Inc. and Private Jets Inc. may be reached at 239.403.4838 or by visiting and Facebook/NaplesAirInc.

You Are Ready To Retire NOW WHAT?

Jill-Ciccarelli-Rappsby Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, CFP®
Financial Advisor

For most of us, we move through our lives towards goals that we have set for ourselves. And in many instances, one of the key goals is  certainly retirement. Being able to reach a point when we can stop working, have flexibility of time, live confidently off our investments, and enjoy the latter part of our lives is something that nearly everyone strives towards.

It’s a great feeling to reach the point when you’re ready to retire. The entire world is in front of you and all the things you never had time to do are now possible; but still many people are overburdened when the time comes.

So once you reach the point where you are ready to retire, what is next? Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your transition into retirement is a good one.


The first thing you need to do when you think you are ready to retire is to be sure that you are. There are several steps that any good investment professional will give to you and it is important to follow each of them carefully. They include the following:

  • Plan Your Life – While each day can be an adventure when you are retired, it is still important that you think seriously about how you’ll be living in retirement. Step away from looking at your financial numbers and consider what you will be doing. Are you moving to a new home? Relocating to a new area? Starting a small business based on your lifetime hobby? Spending focused time on planning how your life will be once you retire is important.
  • Set Up Your Spending Budget – The odds are pretty good that you reached your retirement goals by living on a budget and you’ll want to carry that through your retirement. Set up a budget based on your current unavoidable expenses and what you want to do. Don’t forget to consider future health care costs and legacy goals for your heirs. A sound budget is necessary to ensure you don’t end up short.
  • Consider Social Security – Many people take their Social Security benefits as soon as they can. It is worthwhile to review your options with a financial advisor, as there are several, and based on your individual circumstance and your health, picking the right option can make a significant difference. Did you know that waiting about eight years – until you are 70 – can boost the size of your benefit by as much as 8 percent a year? If you plan it properly, you may be able to get more.


Turn your nest egg into a source of sustainable income. Some retirees do so by creating a business that they have dreamed of running, but for others just things like setting up an annuity that may create consistent income to supplement pensions and or social security, or just drawing a percentage of your retirement nest egg each year from specific assets can help. The key here is making sure that you do not end up needing to go back to work, and while you are retired, it is good to put your money to work for you.


Once you have made sure that you can afford to retire and considered the steps listed above, all that is left to do is make sure that you enjoy yourself. Many who retire end up unhappy since they feel like they have no focus anymore. But a few steps can help with that, including:

  • Retire somewhere with friends nearby. Studies have shown that retirees with friends nearby are about three times more likely to be happier.
  • Stay focused and create your purpose. Pick out a hobby or passion and devote your time to it. Consider taking a class on finding your purpose (Blue Zones Project of Southwest Florida presents regular local workshops) or work through a retirement coach.
  • Live smart; follow your dreams, stay healthy, stay active, and move your body.

Simply put, your retirement is a time that should be enjoyed and should be special. Friends and family can help, and so can being sure that you’ve planned out your retirement in the best possible way. The tips above should help make it easier to do, and speaking with a retirement
specialist can as well. Feel free to contact Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc. today to find out more about getting ready for your retirement.

Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, CFP®
Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc. is located at 9601 Tamiami
Trail North, Naples, FL (239.262.6577)
Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, is a certified financial planner and a trained life coach
and is a Partner of Ciccarelli Advisory Services Inc., a Family Focused Wealth
Management Firm in Florida and New York.
Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc. is located at 9601 Tamiami
Trail North, Naples, FL (239.262.6577)
Investment advisory services offered through Ciccarelli Advisory
Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser independent of FSC Securities
Corporation. Securities and additional investment advisory services offered
through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered
investment adviser.


Michael Wiener, E.A.

Michael Wiener, E.A.

Your contractor did shoddy work on your condo. You were unfairly fired. If you are collecting a settlement or judgment, is it taxable income?

Usually yes, but taxes vary enormously depending on how you were damaged, how the case was resolved, and even how checks and IRS Forms 1099 were issued. Here are some concepts you should know.

Settlements and judgments are taxed the same. The same tax rules apply whether you settle or win a judgment. If you are audited, you’ll need to show the settlement agreement, complaint, checks, IRS Forms 1099, W-2, etc. Settlements and judgments are taxed according to the “origin of your claim.” For example, if you’re suing a competing business for lost profits, a settlement will be lost profits, taxed as ordinary income. If you get laid off at work and sue for discrimination seeking wages, you’ll be taxed on wages. Your former employer will probably withhold income and employment taxes even if you no longer work there.

Recoveries for personal physical injuries and physical sickness are tax-free. If you sue for personal physical injuries, your damages are tax-free. Most importantly, the Tax Code states that in order to qualify for tax-free treatment your injury must be “physical.”

Symptoms of emotional distress are not “physical.” Money you receive for physical symptoms of emotional distress (like headaches and stomachaches) is taxed, while physical injuries or sickness is not. For example, if in settling an employment dispute you receive $50,000 extra because your employer gave you an ulcer. Is an ulcer physical, or merely a symptom of emotional distress? Many plaintiffs take aggressive positions on their tax returns, claiming that damages of this nature are taxfree. But that can be a losing battle if the defendant issues an IRS Form 1099 for the entire settlement. You may want to try to agree with the defendant about the tax issues.

Medical expenses are tax-free, even if your injuries are purely emotional. The definition of “medical expenses” can be surprisingly liberal. For example, payments to a psychiatrist or counselor qualify, as do payments to a chiropractor or physical therapist. Many nontraditional treatments can count as well.

Punitive damages and interest are always taxable. If you are injured in a car crash and get $50,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, the former is tax-free. The $5 Million is fully taxable, and you can have trouble deducting your attorney fees.

Attorney fees can be a trap! Whether you pay your attorney hourly or on a contingent fee basis, factor in the cost of your attorney when you’re addressing taxes. Say you settle a suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress against your neighbor for $100,000, and your lawyer keeps $40,000. You might think you’d have $60,000 of income. Instead, you’ll have $100,000 of income, followed by a $40,000 miscellaneous itemized deduction. You’ll be subject to numerous limitations and to the alternative minimum tax or AMT-that can whittle your deduction down to nothing.

Bottom line: It can be tempting to end your dispute and let the tax chips fall where they may. But before you resolve it, consider the tax aspects. You’ll almost always have to consider them at tax return time the next year. You’ll be better off considering taxes earlier, and may save yourself serious money.

If you should have a topic that you would like me to
discuss or if you should have a question, please feel free
to call 239.403.4410 or e-mail me at
An enrolled agent, licensed by the US Department
of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS
for audits, collections and appeals. To attain the
enrolled agent designation, candidates must demonstrate
expertise in taxation, fulfill continuing education
credits and adhere to a stringent code of ethics.