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Timeshares: ‘Tis the Season for Giving

Timeshares: ‘Tis the Season for Giving

While the holidays traditionally call for gift giving, some US taxpayers may wish to consider giving an especially nice present this year.

Maybe you’ve thought about renting or even selling your current timeshare property. But have you ever considered giving it away?

That’s right—GIVE your timeshare to an appropriate worthy cause and you can claim a portion (and typically all) of its fair market value as a charitable deduction on your personal income tax return. Do it by December 31, and you may even manage to claim it on the 2005 tax year.

Before you begin rejoicing over this unexpected avenue for tax relief however, be aware that this process is not quite as easy as deducting the checks you drop in the church offering plate on Sunday morning or the resale value of that box of sweaters you gave to the local homeless shelter.

For starters, not all charity programs qualify equally in the eyes of Uncle Sam. Giving your timeshare to a tax-exempt group is not necessarily enough to create a tax break for you. “Tax exempt” merely means that the organization meets the criteria for not paying federal income taxes themselves. Whether or not there is any tax break for the donor is another matter.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes more than twenty different categories of tax exempt organizations, but only a few of these categories qualify such that donations to them are tax deductible. To help you determine the status (and the general credibility) of any group to which you might consider donating your timeshare, contact the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. You should also get in touch with your state’s charity regulatory agency, which usually is the state’s Office of the Attorney General or the Office of the Secretary of State. http://www.nasconet.org/agencies is a good place to go to find out more about charities in your state.

Some charities simply do not accept timeshares as a donation. Others will only accept timeshares that meet specified criteria. Contact any charity to which you are considering making a donation and ask them if they are interested in your timeshare and if they have experience handling this type of donation.

Depending upon the value of your timeshare property, you may have to obtain a written appraisal in order to claim a tax deduction. At the very least, you will probably need to provide research establishing the price that comparable properties are bringing on the resale market. Additionally, how the charity uses your donation will affect how much and sometimes when you can actually claim the deduction.

Despite all the hoops to jump through, money you do not pay in taxes is still cash conserved. Better yet, it is tax-free cash conserved, and it may be just the funds you need to get you out of your old timeshare property and into a newer, more desirable one.

The IRS has two publications that will be extremely helpful in determining if donating your timeshare resort property is a good plan for you. Check your local library for Publications 526 and 78 or click on the links below to download these resources directly from the website of the Internal Revenue Service.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p526.pdf  
http://apps.irs.gov/app/pub78

Lastly, always consult a qualified tax advisor and/or financial planner to discuss the financial implications and tax legalities before making a tax decision of this nature.

There’s No Place Like a Timeshare for the Holidays

There’s No Place Like a Timeshare for the Holidays

Even if you aren’t planning to spend the holidays at a timeshare resort, owning one could still come in pretty handy this time of year.

“Oh there’s no place like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch for the holidays…”

No, this is not a typo.

Railway station at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch is in fact the name of a quaint town on the Island of Anglesey, just off the northwestern coast of Wales. Although the village itself is tiny, train tickets to get there on the North Wales Coast Line are jumbo-size in order to accommodate the remarkable 58-letter moniker, a name that translates (roughly) to: “St. Mary’s Church In The Hollow Of The White Hazel Near To The Rapid Whirlpool Of The Church Of St. Tysilo Near The Red Cave.”

Wales is the land of poet Dylan Thomas, the ancient rock cliffs of Snowdonia, 400 castles, and perhaps magical Merlin himself. A timeshare in Dyserth or Laugharene Park would make an enchanting destination for an unforgettable holiday celebration. But this year, your plans may call for something more traditional like, “everyone’s coming to our house,” or “everyone’s going to Grandma’s.”

And, while hearts may be glowing from much mistletoe-ing, if you and your loved ones plan to rock around the Christmas tree, consider scheduling some of the guests to stay in a nearby timeshare or vacation home. Let’s face it, even during the holidays, family togetherness has its limits.

Pack too many bodies close together under one roof and tensions can run high, even in the most serene of families. While Bing Crosby croons pleasantly in the background, tired homeowners everywhere eagerly anticipate the day when their holiday houseguests depart. Listen closely and you can already hear the rumblings of discontent: “Enough is enough! Next year, we’re putting your parents up at the nearest motel!”

So whether you are holidaying in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch, Wales; Your Hometown, USA; or Gorsafawddachaidraigddanheddogled dollonpenrhynareurdraethceredigion, New Zealand, (yes, there really is such a place) give yourself the universal gift—luxury timeshare accommodations, complete with extra bathrooms and bedrooms (with real beds!) for houseguests. Let’s not forget on-site amenities either: if your relatives would rather spend time at the bar instead of the fitness center, that’s their prerogative. The beauty of timeshares is that both options, and many more, are usually readily available.

Putting your in-laws in a timeshare could turn out to be the best present you ever gave yourself.

What Do iPods and Timeshares Have in Common?

What Do iPods and Timeshares Have in Common?

Some upbeat and very interesting quotes from industry panelists at the European Timeshare Business Forum 2005.

The latest edition of Timeshare Staff LTD Magazine, (December ‘05-January ‘06) reviewed highlights from this year’s, European Timeshare Business Forum, recently held in Prague. Here’s a few of the facts that came out of this meeting of industry giants, which we think will have you congratulating yourself heartily for being a savvy timeshare vacation property owner.

Chairman and CEO of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Rip Gellein, looks at his industry this way, “Timeshares are alive and well in the United States… I believe the sky’s the limit.”

He elaborated that there have been no “down years,” in timeshare sales in the US since 1980. US timeshare sales in 1990 were $1.2 billion, and by 2004 had reached the astounding figure of nearly $8 billion. This means that since 1993, the US timeshare sales growth rate has been almost 16%.

On the international market, timeshare sales topped $11 billion last year. And as Yannis Daskalantonakis of The Daskalantonakis Group, reported, “it (the timeshare industry) will be in even better shape in the future.” 

But Shari Levitin Katz, President/CEO of Levitin Group gave us perhaps the most enlightening factoid to come out of the forum, “The growth rate in the past year has been seven-fold. What other product has that level of growth?”

iPod, Australian wine, and Prozac,” she said, answering her own question.

Timeshares: Blame the Packaging, Not the Product

Timeshares: Blame the Packaging, Not the Product

There’s no good reason for unethical sales practices to exist in the timeshare industry. On the flipside, there’s a world of reasons for you to buy timeshare resales.

Imagine that you arrive at a luxury resort for the express purpose of attending a timeshare sales presentation. The salesman promises you the world, and you sign the paperwork. A few months later, when it comes time to use or exchange your timeshare, you run into complications. Confusion soon turns into anger when you find out that what you were promised verbally was not described in the actual contract, and the resort won’t deliver on the salesman’s extravagant promises. 

We’ve all heard this scenario so many times that at this point the terms “timeshare” and “misleading sales practices” seem almost synonymous in the public consciousness. The big resort companies blame rogue scammers for giving the timeshare industry a bad name, while their marketing divisions exacerbate this problem even further by misleading and pressuring consumers into buying at over-inflated prices. 

Isn’t this kind of ironic?

With all these companies desperately trying to con people into buying timeshares, you’d think that timeshare was some sort of communicable disease. Still, one of the many reasons why I love my job is the sizeable pool of timeshare properties that we own, trade, resell, or use. I’ve used a number of our timeshares while traveling on business, and I have yet to be unimpressed.

Timeshares are great, no question about it. Since this is so, why do so many companies and individuals waste money, time, and other valuable resources on unethical, sometimes illegal, business practices?

There is no good reason for a timeshare sales company to mislead or pressure potential buyers. That’s what makes timeshare-by-owner advertising such an appealing alternative to buying timeshare from questionable resort sales staff.

What this all boils down to is that timeshare is a quality product, but it is often poorly marketed.

Buyers can avoid both deceptive salesmen and inflated sale prices by buying timeshare from individual owners, on the resale market.

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