If you’re a timeshare owner, you probably know how hard it is to get rid of them. Selling a timeshare on the resale market is nearly impossible because it has so little intrinsic value. There have been many timeshare resale scams that have arisen around timeshares precisely because of this problem. Some owners, desperate to unload their timeshares, have turned to sites like eBay and Craigslist to try to sell their timeshare for $1.
This leads some owners to think, “If I’m going to be basically giving the timeshare away, perhaps I should donate my timeshare to charity.” These civic-minded people assume that donating their timeshares to charitable organizations is a way to solve two problems: They can unload a vacation ownership property that they no longer want (while getting a tax write-off), and they can give to an organization that they feel could use something of value. It’s a win-win, right?
In this article, we’ll discuss why the intent and outcome of charitable timeshare donations rarely ever resemble each other and why charities are not thrilled to be getting those donations. (Many charities will not accept them at all, and even those that might would have very specific needs.) Second, we’ll talk about how, even if the charity does want your timeshare, the tax deduction you get isn’t going to be much of a benefit.
Finally, we’ll discuss a better option: a legal, ethical timeshare exit through Centersone Group. While we can’t get you a profit or big income-tax deduction, we can help you get the freedom from the timeshare that you need and want.
Before you get too far considering whether you can donate a timeshare property to charity, think about why you’d want to. After all, the reason that we donate to charities is that we believe in their missions and want to support them.
If you donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for example, you do it because you want to help them treat sick children. That usually takes the form of giving them money or valuable resources they can use to fulfill that goal.
Timeshares, however, don’t have intrinsic value. In fact, they often have negative value, meaning that they cost more to have than they generate. If you think about this, you’ll find it self-evident. After all, most people want to get rid of their timeshare because they cannot afford the annual maintenance fees and other costs. Why would someone else want that burden?
More importantly, why would you want to pass on that kind of financial burden to a charity you love? That kind of financial drain would in fact sabotage the charity’s mission, making the timeshare a kind of anti-donation. In this instance, if you donate a timeshare to charity, that donation will backfire.
This reasoning is precisely why many charities don’t accept timeshares as donations. In many cases, all you’re really “donating” is a financial burden to a respected charity. None of them need that kind of a problem.
There are some charities that may occasionally accept donations of timeshares or timeshare weeks. (There are some reports, for example, of Make-A-Wish using timeshares for children and their families to travel to Disney World or Hawaii.) In the event that you find a charity that is interested in your timeshare, though, you may find it’s not as beneficial for you as you might think.
First, keep in mind that you can only get a deduction on your tax return in the amount of the fair market value of the timeshare. As you may have surmised, timeshare units don’t sell for much, as evidenced by the fact that so many owners try to sell them for pennies on the dollar (or even $1) just to get someone to take them off their hands. (And even then, many of them still can’t find anyone to take it!)
With that in mind, it is highly unlikely that your timeshare would be valued at more than $5,000. If it does have a higher valuation, though, you are going to need to prove it. You’ll need a professional appraisal of your timeshare within 60 days of the donation stating the value that you plan to report to the IRS. Anything short of this could land you in trouble with the authorities.
These legal problems present all kinds of issues and risks we can’t go into here. If you are seriously considering this kind of a donation, we strongly advise you to consult with a licensed accountant or tax attorney for further consultation.
Also, you didn’t think that the timeshare company was just going to let you do this without taking its pound of flesh, did you? Even if your timeshare contract even allows you to make a donation (and that’s a big “if”), the resort will likely want you to pay a transfer fee (often thousands of dollars) for the privilege of donating.
Finally, with any real estate transfer, there are going to be closing costs. The charity isn’t going to want to pay those. (Nor should you want the charity to spend its hard-earned money on them.) That’s another cost that is going to come out of your pocket, eating away at any tax benefit that you could possibly get from the donation.
So, if you decide to donate a timeshare to charity, it usually doesn’t help the charity, and it almost certainly won’t help you. Is there a better option?
Problems like this are why Centerstone Group exists. We won’t insult your intelligence by telling you that you’ll make a profit by getting rid of your timeshare — you won’t. But what you will get is freedom and money saved that you are currently wasting on endless maintenance fees, exchange program fees, special assessments, and all the other nickel-and-dime charges your resort throws at you.
And when Centerstone gets you out of the timeshare, you stay out. If you’re new to the timeshare game, we may be able to get you a clean break with a contract cancellation. If not, we can use our proprietary pressure campaigns, which sometimes involve administrative complaints against your timeshare company for its wrongdoing.
If you have a more serious legal problem, we can help you with that, too. We constantly work side by side with excellent timeshare attorneys who can help you find legal solutions to complicated problems. We’ll be there every step of the way, and we can even get you better attorney fee rates due to our longstanding relationships with these lawyers.
When you use Centerstone Group, you can also rest assured that we are an A-rated company accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Our customer reviews and reputation speak for themselves. We would love the chance to show you what we can do for you.
Charities are a vital part of our society. By their nature, they are non-profit companies with serious social missions. Instead, they use what money they do have to make a positive impact on the lives of as many people as possible.
The last thing any charity needs is the financial burden of a timeshare — the very same hassle from which you are likely fighting so hard to free yourself. Let Centerstone Group show you a better way. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.