- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 9, 2004

Auto show coming to convention center

More than 700 new vehicles from 37 manufacturers will be on display at the “63rd Washington Auto Show,” slated for the Convention Center from Dec. 26 through Jan. 2.

In addition to the flashy wheels, the show offers contests, giveaways, special guests and other attractions for families. One particularly popular feature, the “Hands On Contest,” gives participants a chance to drive home a new Toyota on Jan. 2 if they can hang on long enough.For more information about show times and ticket prices, call 866/WASH-AUTO or 202/237-7200 or visit www.washingtonautoshow.com on the Internet.

Honda again best in environmental safety

Honda Motor Co. has taken top honors in a survey of automakers’ technologies to produce environmentally friendly cars.

The Union of Concerned Scientists this week said that the Japanese automaker earned the No. 1 spot for its efforts to boost fuel economy and cut harmful exhaust emissions.

Honda placed first for the third time in as many surveys. The scientists started the polls in 1998, holding them every two or three years. This year’s survey covered the 2003 model-year autos from six manufacturers: the Big Three U.S. automakers and the three leading Japanese makers.

Nissan Motor Co. overtook Toyota Motor Co. for second place, with improved fuel efficiency in its cars. General Motors dropped to sixth place from fifth in the previous poll.

Stanley Steamer book reportedly selling well

Folks at the Stanley Museum are elated about the success of their book, “The Stanley Steamer, America’s Legendary Steam Car.”

The book, 548 pages long, contains extensive appendices and an index. It was researched under the auspices of the museum, located in Kingfield, Maine.

“The raves continue, from Sarah Stanley and Jay Leno to Fred Roe,” says recent promotional material from the museum. The Stanley Museum is a nonprofit corporation.Visit www.stanleymuseum.org on the Internet.

‘Fair market value’ ends with new year

Time is rapidly running out for vehicle donors to get “fair market value” as the basis for a tax write-off.

On Jan. 1, a new law will require that a vehicle’s price at wholesale auction be used as the basis for a taxable-income-reducing claim. The reason for the change: The federal government decided that too many taxpayers were taking advantage of the system by overvaluing donated property — vehicles in particular.

Kelley Blue Book offers advice on how to get a fair-market-value write-off one last time.

1. Donate your vehicle by Dec. 31.

2. Determine the fair market value using Kelley Blue Book’s used vehicle condition quiz on its Web site. Print out the quiz and value report for your income-tax return.

3. Make sure that the charity taking your vehicle is one you recognize and trust. You can call the Better Business Bureau to inquire about any charity.

4. Find out how much money your chosen charity receives from vehicle donations. According to a government report, more than $34 million was donated in automobile revenue in 2000, but only 32 percent of the gross revenue was returned to the charities. Visit www.vehicle-donation.com to learn more about this issue.

5. Sign the vehicle’s title over directly to the chosen charity or its agent. Don’t leave the title blank. Many illegitimate charities ask that the title be left blank. This practice could leave you liable for the vehicle months after it has been donated.

6. Get a receipt. When you make any noncash contribution, you must get a receipt from the charitable organization including the name of the charity, its tax ID, date, location of the contribution and a detailed description of the donation. Keep this information to justify your tax deduction.

For more Kelley Blue Book information and IRS tax forms, visit www.kbb.com/donation.

Friends of vets seekvehicles to sell

The Circle of Friends for American Veterans is looking for donations of 1994 or newer running vehicles, or classic ones that will help homeless veterans.

The organization offers free towing. Blue Book-value tax deductions are available through Dec. 31. As of Jan. 1, donors will get credit for the amount the vehicle brings at sale.

For more information, call 703/237-8980.

Fax or mail items of interest to Bill O’Brien, Auto Notes, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Use fax 202/832-2167. The deadline is 5 p.m. on the Monday before publication on Friday.

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