Holiday Tech Gift Guide

Here is my 2015 Holiday Tech Gift Guide, items that I have used and can personally recommend for anyone on your gift list!

Ray RemoteThe Ray Super Remote

The Ray Super Remote wants to declutter your coffee table and become the central nervous system of all of your home entertainment systems. The touch-screen device is designed to control TVs, cable boxes, DVRs, video game consoles and Internet streaming players such as Roku and Apple TV. What’s more, it runs on software that learns viewers’ preferences so it can list programs suited to personal interests. It requires a Wi-Fi system and pay-TV boxes to work properly.

The Ray remote controls more than 200,000 devices and can run applications that will enable it to control other Internet connected home appliances, such as Google’s Nest thermostat. The search and recommendation features are set up to eliminate the need to spend a lot of time looking for content. Users can tell the remote what kinds of programming interests them, such as soccer or comedy, so shows fitting those categories are automatically highlighted on the nearly 5-inch screen.


The newest version of AppleTV is out now. If you have ever used an AppleTV, you know that it has a great interface and is easy to use.

The current AppleTV adds an new remote, Siri voice search for programming as well as games. The 32GB model will be perfect for most, go for the 64GB version if you are planning to download a lot of games.

$149 and $199 (32GB or 64GB)

nest protectNest Protect Smoke Plus Carbon Monoxide

This updated smoke/carbon monoxide detector uses a human voice to calmly warn you when the alarm is about to go off. The Nest Protect takes something as boring as detecting smoke and makes it slightly exciting. The companion app, night and path lights and integration with other Nest products are nice to have features, but it’s the company’s focus on safety that makes the Protect worthy of your ceiling.


ProtagPROTAG Duet Bluetooth Tracker

Losing important items is always a concern, especially when it comes to smartphones. Whether phones are misplaced in the course of a day or left behind when moving about, it is something that happens . The Duet device allows you to track down a lost item using wireless Bluetooth technology, as well as it can be set to notify you if you get a certain distance away from your phone. At just 1 x 1 x 0.19 inches, the Duet can easily be added to a number of items that are carried every day. Users can attach the Duet to a keychain, laptop, luggage or bag.

Made from plastic and containing only a circuit board and battery, the Duet snaps together tightly, and it stands up to as much abuse any normal keychain faces.


Body AnalyzerWithings WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer

The Withings Smart Body Analyzer is a wonderful piece of tech that helps you track your weight, body fat and general well being over time. It might be a bit pricey, but when you consider how much a decent fitness watch or cycling computer costs, the Smart Body Analyzer actually looks like a bit of a bargain. The fact that Withings has created an entire health and fitness ecosystem tied up with a very well designed and presented app for iOS and Android is the icing on the cake. If you’re looking to lose weight, get fit or just maintain a healthy lifestyle, the Withings Smart Body Analyzer will help you achieve your goals.


portable printerPolaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

The Polaroid Zip printer is an inexpensive pocketable wireless photo printer that turns your smartphone pictures into full color 2×3-inch prints. Simple to set up and use, it doesn’t require any consumables beyond Polaroid’s Zink paper. Prints are small, and cost about 25 cents each. Simple and fun to use, the Polaroid Zip is a great little accessory for freeing your photos from your smartphone.


Apple WatchApple Watch

The Apple Watch is Apple’s newest, most personal computer. There are hundreds of unique apps for the Apple Watch, including Fitness, Activity, and Workout for health and fitness, a remote viewfinder for the iPhone’s camera, and directions for walking, driving or biking. Features include a heart rate sensor, easily changeable bands, a touch-sensitive screen with Force Touch for accessing special menus and features, as well as Siri voice control for inputting text messages and email. The Apple Watch does require an iPhone for all features to be active.

$349 and up


Back Row L to R: Sgt. Jeff Boyd, Collier County Sheriff’s Office; Tracy Colleran, Straighten Up, Inc.; Cpl. Luke Arnold, Collier County Sheriff’s Office; Robert Busch, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; Front row: Captain Anthony Maro and Deputy Chief Noemi Fraguela; Collier County EMS; Melanie Black, Drug Free Collier; Chris Byrne, Marco Island Fire Rescue; and Captain Charles Bacon, North Collier Fire District.

Back Row L to R: Sgt. Jeff Boyd, Collier County Sheriff’s Office; Tracy Colleran, Straighten Up, Inc.; Cpl. Luke
Arnold, Collier County Sheriff’s Office; Robert Busch, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; Front
row: Captain Anthony Maro and Deputy Chief Noemi Fraguela; Collier County EMS; Melanie Black, Drug
Free Collier; Chris Byrne, Marco Island Fire Rescue; and Captain Charles Bacon, North Collier Fire District.

Drug Free Collier has launched a new campaign designed to help local residents safely dispose of unwanted medicine using a system that effectively neutralizes drugs at home. Collier County is one of three locations in Florida selected by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) to participate in the national pilot project. As part of the program, Drug Free Collier will distribute 10,000 pouches of DeterraTM, a carbon-based drug deactivation system, with the help of key stakeholders in our community.

“We are proud to participate in this important pilot project,” said Melanie Black, Executive Director of Drug Free Collier. “For years, we have been at the forefront of vital campaigns to keep our kids safe and our environment clean through Operation Medicine Cabinet.” There are now 11 permanent drop boxes in Collier County where residents can safely dispose of unwanted medicine throughout the year. “We’ve come a long way, thanks to the efforts of so many dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to raise awareness about the importance of safe medicine use, storage and disposal,” she added.

“As we learn more about the risks of unsecured medication and the impact of pharmaceuticals on our water supply, it’s easy to see why more people are resisting the temptation to flush their medicine down the toilet or simply throw it out with the trash,” Black said, adding that local residents have disposed of more than one ton of household medication since the program’s inception.

For residents who are unable to get to our permanent drop boxes, the DeterraTM system is a perfect alternative. Each biodegradable pouch can safely and quickly dispose of up to 90 pills, 12 ounces of liquid or 12 patches. Each package includes step-by-step instructions on how to use warm tap water to neutralize the chemicals found in prescription drugs. The entire process takes about 30 seconds. The pouch can then be conveniently discarded with any household trash.

For Tracy Colleran, a professional organizer who works with clients to minimize clutter, this program is especially appealing. “I work with people going through life changes,” said Colleran, owner of Straighten Up, Inc. “They have so much on their plate,” she said. “For me to take one thing off their checklist is extremely helpful.” When it comes to unwanted medication, Colleran said people know that they shouldn’t flush it, but instead often allow it to accumulate because they don’t know what to do with it. Colleran has partnered with Drug Free Collier because this project provides her with a safe solution through on-site disposal.

Other partners include the Collier County Sheriff’s Office; Collier County EMS; North Collier Fire Control and Rescue; Marco Island Fire Rescue; and Collier County Solid & Hazardous Waste Management. Local distribution of the DeterraTM packets will focus on the elderly, overdose patients and other high-risk residents with unsecured medication.

“Anything that makes our community safer is important to Collier County EMS,” said Noemi Fraguela, Deputy Chief of Training. As part of the project, EMS has stocked each ambulance with the drug disposal pouches and will hand them out on calls where they see patients with lots of medication and duplicates. North Collier Fire Control and Rescue is also using the packets as part of its prevention efforts by demonstrating their use at local senior living facilities.

“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and health issue,” said Black, “You can be part of the solution, by locking up your own medication and safely disposing of any unwanted drugs,” she added.

Contact Drug Free Collier at 239.377.0535 or to learn more about this project.


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

Naples has made the list! We are in the “Top 20” markets in the United States for luxury real estate listings and sales.

According to Coldwell Banker – Previews International’s fall report, Naples even trumped Miami, Houston and Honolulu when it came to active luxury home listings and closed sales over $1 million. Additionally, with one of the busiest summers on record leading into another potentially record breaking season, I think it’s safe to say, we’re the place to reside!

With a projected peak seasonal population of over 400,000 in Collier County, it’s no secret that our piece of paradise here in Southwest Florida has become less of a secret than in years past.

Taking to Google, the Naples area also ranks as one of the wealthiest cities in the country with the sixth highest per capita income, and the second highest proportions of millionaires per capita in America.

So with all of these high net and ultra high net worth individuals fleeing to our area, there is an obvious and growing demand for real estate professionals, estate services and contractors, remodeling companies, and interior design firms alike.

However, when it comes to estate moves and complete logistics services, our company holds the record for best practices and personalized quality services. William C. Huff Companies is often hired to move families from one gated community to another, from a gated community to a beach residence or from a multi-million dollar estate up North to their new piece of paradise here in Naples. Our experienced trained and tenured staff, along with our incomparable industry practices, and our tradition of quality set us above all the rest. We create long-lasting relationships with our clients and as our Naples area grows so will our long list of satisfied clients.

When it comes to relocation logistics services, we are known as one of the nation’s best. We hope you will enjoy your time in paradise this season!

Masters of Marble and Metal

by John Schanck

schanck1From the beginning of the trip to the end, everything was perfect, or as one would say in Italian ‘perfecto!’

When I first read about the “Masters of Marble and Metal” lot before the 2015 Naples Winter Wine Festival, I knew it was the one I wanted.  Consisting of the 8 Cubes sculpture made from Carrara marble by the renowned artist Márton Váró, a gold and diamond ring from Fratelli Piccini’s “Tetti di Firenze” Collection, two Calamai Chronograph G50 watches forged with the same steel as the General Electric turbines from the F-104 of the Italian Air Force, and a trip to Italy to see where they’re all made, I couldn’t let it get away! And so I placed the winning bid on lot # 53, and, believe it or not, my whole life changed.

From the time I walked off the plane in Italy with my son and his fiancé, everything exceeded our expectations. Not only did we get to visit the Carrara quarries where 8 Cubes was sourced, and spend the day at Fratelli Piccini’s Florence shop, but we got to meet the artists themselves. It began during the first leg of our trip in Tuscany, when we met Márton Váró and traveled with him to the marble quarries, about a fifteen-minute drive up the mountains with beautiful views of Carrara, to visit the Cave Michelangelo. There, Márton’s friend Franco Barattini greeted us and gave us an in-depth explanation of the marble and his background. Franco was such an inspirational and humble man; he started working in the quarry when he was twelve years old and is so passionate about the marble quarry.

schanck2A few days later, after exploring the wineries of Bolgheri, we arrived in Florence to meet Elisa and Catherina Piccini, the granddaughter and greatgranddaughter of the founder of Fratelli Piccini, one of the most famous jewelry brands in Italy. There, we were greeted with champagne and hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed a special dinner on the terrace of their shop overlooking the Ponte Vecchio. The food was delicious, from a beet salad with a crème, mushroom risotto, beef with a sauce and some vegetables, to a Tuscan grape harvest cake that was excellent. After dinner, we received our incredible jewelry: two watches and a unique ring made out of rose gold with white and black diamonds.

Next, we had a beautiful two-hour drive to Montalcino, famous for its wine, and attended Brunello’s Harvest Party, which was an amazing experience. At the Harvest Party, we tasted various types of Brunellos that were all fabulous and enjoyed the authentic Tuscan food and dessert. After the Harvest Party, we drove to San Filippo estate in Montalcino where we enjoyed dinner with the owners of San Filippo and several vintages of their outstanding San Filippo wine.

schanck3The next day, we toured the San Filippo estate and watched the process of how wine is made, from cutting the grapes off the vines to watching the grapes being dispensed through a machine. The winery was beautiful and was a great experience to watch how many steps go into making wine. After viewing the winery, we had lunch in the little town of Montalcino and then were off to Rome for a private tour of the Coliseum. It was incredible to learn the history behind this ancient amphitheater, and throughout the private tour we also got to see the restoration that is currently taking place.

Not only was this auction trip one of the best experiences we have ever had, but it was truly life changing. Because of our incredible experiences, I have decided to purchase a vacation home in the center of Florence and can’t wait for this new chapter of my life!

Together We Can Make a Difference

Jackie Bearseby Jackie Bearse
Florida Cancer Specialist Foundation Board Member
Founding Chair of Time to Remember

The Thompsons imagined retirement as long walks along a sandy beach, with picturesque sunsets. But instead they were both diagnosed with cancer – two months apart. He with lung cancer and she had a malignant tumor in her breast. Now instead of their leisurely walks – they are going through cancer treatment together – on a fixed income. Behind in their car payment and with overdue utility bills, the Thompsons applied for and were given immediate assistance from the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation.

As two-time cancer survivor and a patient myself, I spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms listening to fellow cancer patients – just like the Thompsons – discuss very real and frightening problems about how to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads while undergoing treatment. When you are fighting cancer, you don’t need the extra stress of worrying about finances too.


Fortunately Dr. Bill Harwin, president and founder of Florida Cancer Specialists (FCS), had a vision. As an Oncologist, who treats cancer patients, he was acutely aware of the financial burden cancer typically imposes on a family budget. His vision was to complete the circle of care – from providing clinical care to providing financial assistance to patients in need so they could focus on what really matters – fighting their cancer.

A group of FCS physicians joined Dr. Harwin in making his dream a reality, and together established and funded the FCS Foundation, which transitioned to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with a mission to fund the real and everyday needs of families with mortgage, rent, phone, electriity and water bills through its AVAIL fund. The Foundation helps non-FCS patients as well.

What’s important to know is that the Foundation staff and overhead are paid for by FCS, which means that every dollar raised by the Foundation goes directly to helping cancer patients.


Within the first years, patient financial assistance requests increased by 85% and it became necessary to engage the help and generosity of the community for the less fortunate.

In 2014, I had the privilege of chairing the first major fundraising event “Rio Carnival” where FCS physicians, partner physicians, patients, survivors, corporate business partners and supportive guests came together at the sold-out event. With this major effort and other donations to the FCS Foundation grants given to patients in need have exceeded $1 million.

However, there is more work to do and we need everyone’s help.

Please join the Foundation in its ongoing effort to provide meaningful support to individuals in Florida battling cancer by attending
its biennial signature fundraising event – “Time to Remember” on April 16, 2016 at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. (For more information please read the side story here.)

Together we have and will continue to significantly impact and directly touch the lives of cancer patients in Florida.


Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation
Invites You to a Time to Remember
When: Saturday, April 16, 2016
Time: 6 – 11 p.m.
Where: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Naples
What: Cocktails, conversation, dinner and
Entertainment: Live performance by Martha
Reeves & The Vandellas
Live Auction: Fund-A-Family live bidding
experience to directly support families of
cancer patients. Live auction of unique items
and experiences.
Benefiting: The FCS Foundation providing
non-medical living expense assistance to
qualified cancer patients.
Patty Baker, Chair • Jackie Bearse, Founding
Chair • Kirsten Ferrara & Jean Hertzog:
Tickets are $600 per person and
sponsorship/underwriting are available.
For More Information: please call
941.677.7181 or visit


by Kelly Cooper

Henry Hale III

Henry Hale III

Most of us have wondered at one time or another, how can I make a difference in the world? Entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Halle III, owner of Old Naples Self Storage, not only asked himself this same question but made it a life mission to positively impact the lives of others. Henry has been widely recognized and highly regarded in the Naples community for his passion to preserve the beauty of Naples and provide resources so people can make a difference in their own lives.

Henry was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from San Diego State University. He later relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, where he had a successful career as a builder and land developer. In the 1970’s Henry began visiting Naples and fell in love not only with the clay tennis courts but the people within the community. It was 17 years ago when he permanently moved to Naples and opened his first storage facility, Fur and Fine Arts. Currently Henry owns two storage facilities in Naples, Old Naples Self Storage located at 275 Goodlette-Frank Road 239.262.6133 and Old Naples Self Storage North located at 10500 Goodlette Road 239.598.9088.

Henry has witnessed the evolution of Naples and takes pride in being part of it. He incorporated charity and philanthropy into his business plan because he firmly believes anyone in business has an obligation to give back to the community to the best of their ability. It is the way he was raised, what he did in Memphis and what he will continue to do in Naples. Not only does Henry donate monetarily, he donates his time, facilities and resources to help many nonprofit agencies with their storage needs.

Henry became involved with the Boys and Girls Club when he was living in Memphis and continued involvement after moving to Naples, where he was on the Board of Directors. There are over 30 charities and organizations that have directly benefited at one time or another on both the local and international levels. A large number are geared towards children, women and rehabilitation services. Some of which include Baby Basics of Collier County, Fun Time Academy, Shelter for Abused Women & Children and St. Matthew’s House.

Education is one of Henry’s top priorities and his involvement with Naples Children and Education, Naples High School and the Literacy Volunteers of Collier County is nothing short of significant. He has also been recognized for the generous donations and continued contributions towards medical entities specifically the Neighborhood Health Clinic as well as religious organizations and centers. Henry feels very fortunate to be a part of the Naples community who values giving back. Naples is also very fortunate for all of Henry’s commitments and efforts within the community.

Hair and pH

Erick Carter

Erick Carter

by Erick Carter

Hair is made up of very strong proteins. Despite the strength of these proteins, chemical processes can weaken the hair and cause breakage. I would like to explain the pH of chemicals and the damage it can cause.

Hair is made up of two main parts. The outer scale-like layer, called the cuticle protects the inner layer called the cortex. The protein chains are located along the cortex with the melanin (which gives hair its color). When the hair becomes damaged, the scales of the cuticle stand up, break off and expose the cortex. This makes hair dry and hard to brush. The cortex gives hair its strength and elasticity. When the damage reaches the cortex the hair will not return to its shape and may even snap off.

Hair PHSince the melanin is found in the cortex of the hair, to change the color we must penetrate through the cuticle layer – and that’s where pH comes in. Anything water soluble can be measured by pH. The pH scale runs from 0-14, 0 being a very strong acid and 14 being a very strong alkaline base. Water has a pH of about 7 (neutral) as does peroxide and most shampoos. Lemon juice and vinegar have a pH of about 2-3 (both acids) whereas baking soda, an alkaline, has a pH of about 8 or 9. Hair has a natural pH of about 4.5-5.5.

Permanent hair colors are usually alkaline based and a higher pH is needed to reach the cortex layer of the hair to change its color. Look for my article next month as I continue with to explain the relationship between hair and pH.

For questions or comments contact me at or call Salon Zenergy, 239.777.2380.

Home for the Holidays

by Catherine Fay,
Owner and VP

Owners of Naples Air, Inc. Jon and Catherine Fay

Owners of Naples Air, Inc. Jon and Catherine Fay

The holidays will soon be upon us and traveling to see loved ones can sometimes be a challenge. We’ve heard the horror stories over and over; friends who’ve booked flights only to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas sitting in a strange airport all alone surviving on Cinnabons and coffee. Naples Air, Inc. doesn’t want this to happen to you this holiday season.

Although planning ahead is always the best, sometimes circumstances arise that are beyond your control. Overbooked or delayed flights, lost luggage, check-in lines that seem to circle the terminal and the stranger who seems a little strange sitting next to you can put a damper on your holiday cheer.

S o m e t i m e s driving can be an option but other times it’s just not feasible. The drive to Grandma’s might take up your entire holiday break. Have you ever traveled with a family of four plus a dog for more than six hours? Was it a fun experience? If it was a bit challenging, we offer what we think is the best solution; a charter flight with us can make life simpler.

Plus, there always seems to be a grandparent, aunt or uncle who just refuses to come visit you in Naples because they don’t want to deal with busy airports such as Atlanta or JFK. For those relatives, we suggest gifting them a special hassle-free charter flight to come visit you and your family.

If it’s your turn to go home for the holidays – great! Why not treat yourself to a charter flight. We fly families and pets to all parts of the Midwest and Northeast and everywhere in between. If a destination holiday is on your bucket list, we offer flights to many vacation destinations including the tropical Florida Keys and the white sandy beaches of the Bahamas.

We’re dedicated to serving your air charter needs, planned or unplanned! 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 snow begins to fall; we can provide the perfect aircraft. We offer jets, turbo props, and piston aircraft for your convenience.

Call us for all of your air charter needs! Naples Air Inc. and Private Jets Inc. may be reached at 239.403.4838 or by visiting and Facebook/NaplesAirInc.

How Involved Should Your Family Be IN YOUR WEALTH MANAGEMENT?

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

If you’re like most, you have spent a considerable amount of time and energy on developing and growing your current level of wealth. All that hard work really does reward in more ways than just financial – the pride and contentment you can feel knowing that you have created something is very satisfying.

But there is much more to life than just money and wealth; the intangible legacy you leave your family is likely just as important to you as anything else. However, many find that it is hard to involve their family in their wealth management efforts. There are plenty of reasons for this and it’s worth taking a few minutes to look at some basic points to figure out just how involved your family should be.

It’s important to note that no two families, individuals, or wealth management scenarios are the same. As such, the final decision will always be up to you. However, looking at the following things can certainly help you make the right decision.

How Involved Are They Already? The first step is to look at just how involved your family is in your assets and wealth at the current moment. For example, are you a business partner with a son or sibling?

Do you just employ a few loved ones? If your loved ones are already involved in the wealth generation, you may want to take extra steps to involve them further in your wealth management plans.

What Is Your Plan? Once you move past figuring out who is already involved, you need to figure out your overall financial wealth plan. This can be far more difficult than many realize, especially when you consider things like:

  • Will you set up a living trust or a standard trust? Who is the trustee to be?
  • Who gets what?
  • What about non-monetary assets and wealth?

That last factor can be a hard one to discuss with loved ones, and it is easy for feelings to be hurt and for loved ones to feel slighted. The more you can communicate to your heirs, the more significant your legacy can be to make a difference in their lives.


A lot of time is spent by anyone preparing their living trust, organizing their will, generating wealth, and more. But something that is often overlooked is simply the process of preparing your heirs. While you may decide not to involve your family directly in the process of planning out your wealth management efforts, it’s a good idea to at least prepare them.

There are numerous issues that can come from an ill-prepared heir situation, ranging from hurt feelings to difficulty with asset transition to trouble properly managing the wealth once it is in their name. Preparing your heirs early on can help with this dramatically. A few points to remember:

  • Discuss the process of wealth and asset transition with them fully. This can help them understand what to expect so they aren’t frustrated or challenged by the process.
  • Explain the basics of the division of assets so nobody faces any surprises. This can help make the transition process a bit easier as well.
  • Ensure that the people who are to be in charge of different aspects of your assets understand how to properly manage them and align them in such a way that it benefits the family. Many times, a dress rehearsal is appropriate; giving them a certain amount of money to manage and see how they do.

Taking these basic steps can help you get more from the process of preparing and planning wealth and ensure that you are able to give them everything they deserve.

Why Involve Family? Obviously, some will feel that involving the family isn’t prudent. But consider the simple fact that these are your loved ones, and that while it can seem like a hassle or a burden, it is something that they will likely want to be a part of to some degree. This in turn can help you rest easy knowing that they are prepared and aware of what is to come and that they can handle the responsibilities.

If you need help with the planning process or want to consult with someone about just what the best steps are for your specific situation, Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc. can help. Contact us today to find out more about your options and what we can do to help you and your family prepare for the future in the best way possible.

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.

Donating Your Car

Michael Wiener, E.A.

Michael Wiener, E.A.

by Michael Wiener, E.A.
Over the years my clients have asked me about donating their car or other vehicle to charitable organizations. The tax benefits for making such a charitable contribution are real enough but they come with some strings attached. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with a deduction that is lower than the one you bargained for – or no deduction at all.

In the past, donating cars to charity was a win-win situation for the donor and organization, even if you were giving away a lemon. All you had to do was arrange the pick-up or drop-off, refer to an auto-buying guide like Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and then deduct the car’s fair market value based on the figures in the guide. But taxpayers got greedy – as they tend to do – and often overstated these values on their tax returns, so Congress felt compelled to tighten up the rules in 2004.

Under current law, no deduction is allowed for a car with a value of less than $500. If you use a buying guide such as the KBB to set the car’s fair market value, the deduction may be reduced if the charity turns around and sells the vehicle, as many likely do. For instance, if you have valued the car at $5,000 and the charity sells it for $4,000 your deduction is limited to $4,000.

Within 30 days of the charity selling the vehicle, it must provide you the selling price on Form 1098-C (Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes). This is the proof you’ll need if the Internal Revenue Service ever challenges the deduction amount. If you haven’t heard from the charity within 30 days, get on the phone pronto to secure the necessary paperwork.

For the most part, deductions for vehicles will be lower than the amount of the fair market value. But there’s one silver lining in the tax rules: If the charity “materially improves” the vehicle for its own use – for instance, it repairs a bent fender or installs a new feature like a navigation system – you can still deduct the car’s fair market value.

The best approach is to not to jump at the first opportunity to donate a car to charity. It may pay to search for an organization that will agree to fix it up and use the vehicle for its stated charitable purposes.

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.