YOU CAN FIGHT CITY HALL

The timeshare industry isn't afraid to fight city hall, or the state capitol, or any other government entity that gets in its way. In recent months, the industry has done battle against both local taxation bills in a number of states and ill-conceived state legislation in Florida that could have damaged the industry as well as consumers. Timeshare won in Florida, but the taxation fight wages on in a number of state and local jurisdictions.

On the local front, the industry continues to oppose those communities that want to slap occupancy taxes on timeshare owners who stay in resorts on exchange. Such a bill was recently vetoed by the governor of Rhode Island, but several towns on Cape Cod are considering the tax.

“To a city council or CVB, an exchanger looks and smells like a renter so they believe they should be taxed,” says American Resort Development Association President & CEO Howard Nusbaum. “In fact, exchangers own timeshares and already pay real estate taxes in the communities in which they own their intervals.”

Nusbaum believes ARDA and the industry needs to do a better of educating government leaders that since timeshare exchangers prepay their accommodations, they're more likely to spend money at restaurants, attractions and in stores while on vacation.

ARDA was successful in preventing passage of such a tax in Myrtle Beach. “We were able to effectively communicate the economic impact of timesharing to the community,” says Nusbaum. “And as we pointed out, timeshare developers who bring in prospects for mini-vacation tours pay occupancy taxes. In Myrtle Beach, for example, our industry is the largest purchaser of accommodations and attraction tickets.”

In Florida, ARDA and a number of timeshare executives in the state were able to convince Governor Jeb Bush to veto a bill that would have effectively removed many regulations on the timeshare industry, including such consumer protection items as disclosure, financial assurance, rights of rescission and owner governance. ARDA and industry leaders believe passage could have allowed unscrupulous developers and marketers back into the business.

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