Transient Occupancy Tax

Roy Given, Department of Finance

Transient tax page

Transient Occupancy Tax - Online Registration and Monthly Reporting

Visitors are drawn to Marin by its natural beauty and the region's unique and historical attractions.  The dollars they bring stimulate commerce, which is vital to the local economy.  Balancing the costs and benefits of tourism is essential to the preservation of our communities and our quality of life.  Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is an important part of that balance.  TOT paid by visitors helps fund projects that benefit the County as a whole, such as public parks, infrastructure improvements, and historical and environmental preservation.

 

Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)

TOT, also known as a “hotel tax,” is authorized under State Revenue and Taxation Code Section 7280. TOT is levied at 10% in the unincorporated Marin County for the privilege of occupying a room(s) or other living spaces in a hotel, inn, motel, vacation home, house or other lodging for a period of 30 days or less. TOT is collected by the operator, but the tax is imposed on the guest. Effective January 1, 2019, the TOT rate increased to 14% for short-term rentals and 4% for campgrounds in West Marin. See TOT2 below for additional information.

Registration

Within 30 days of commencing business, each operator of any transient occupancy accommodation must register for two types of license with the Department of Finance:

Online Services

You can register for a TOT certificate number or report TOT by using the online service portal. TOT payments can be made using a debit or credit card, or an electronic funds transfer (EFT). There is a 2.35% service fee for debit or credit card transactions. The 2.35% service fee is not retained by the Tax Collector, it is retained by the service provider and is non-refundable.

Workshop

A workshop for TOT operators is scheduled for November 14, 2018, from 2:30-4:30pm, in the Marin County Civic Center Board Chambers, Rm 329. The workshop will cover how to use the online services and other important information relating to TOT compliance for short-term rentals in the unincorporated areas of Marin County.

Compliance Initiative

The Department of Finance established a new set of TOT Compliance Initiatives in 2018, which include the following elements (in the order of operational priority):

  • Amend TOT Ordinance to include Certificate of Tax Lien and Tax Clearance Certification
  • Upgrade TOT system to provide online registration, reporting and payment services
  • Identify and communicate with non-compliant operators before initiating legal action
  • Establish TOT remittance agreements with other online reservation platforms

Reporting Transient Occupancy Tax

Short-term rental operators are required to report and remit returns, together with payment, by the close of business on the last day of each month for the preceding month.

Each month, operators will report:

  • Gross receipts charged and received for the reporting month
  • Tax collected from guests
  • Paper returns can be mailed, or returns can be electronically submitted at: www.marincounty.org/tot1

Items not included for gross receipts:

The value of paid or complimentary food or beverage offered to a guest of the hotel, if the food or beverage is included in a package rate, provided all of the following apply:

  • A reasonable allocation of the value of such food or beverage is separately identified either on the guest receipt or on the operator’s accounting records
  • No TOT is charged or collected by the operator on the value of the food or beverage
  • Sales and use tax imposed by the State of California is collected on the food or beverages from the guest and remitted to the State (Rev. & Tax §7282.3)

Allowed deductions from gross receipts:

  • Complimentary rooms provided for purposes of advertising or public relations
  • Adjustments to room rates due to customer complaints regarding unsatisfactory services or goods
  • Travel or other special discounts offered by the hotel
  • Corrections of errors or disputed room charges and refunded room charges
  • The value of rooms, products and/or services donated for charitable purposes
  • Link to PDF:  Airbnb Gross Earnings Report-Instructions

Online Agents

Airbnb has an agreement with the County of Marin to remit the TOT they collect directly to the Tax Collector at the end of each month, however, Airbnb does not identify which Operators are to receive credit for that tax. As such, local Operators must report total rent charged and TOT collected by Airbnb on their behalf on a monthly basis to receive credit. The County of Marin does not have an agreement with any other online platform to collect and remit TOT at this time. Operators utilizing other online platforms, must collect and remit the TOT directly from their guests, and report total rents charged and TOT collected from all sources to the Tax Collector monthly. Operators must attach documentation from Airbnb and all other online platforms, reflecting all rents charged for each reporting period.

Operator's Responsibility

Operators are responsible for ensuring compliance with the County’s governing laws, including registration, collection and remittance of any TOT taxes that apply to their accommodations when payment is collected.

Transient Guest's Responsibility

Every guest (transient) occupying any short-term rental for any period less than 30 days is required to include TOT with the rent payment. The rate is 10% of the rent charged in unincorporated Marin County, effective January 1, 2019; the rate increased to 14% for West Marin short-term rentals and 4% for campgrounds. See TOT2 below for additional information. As stipulated in Ordinance Chapter 3.05. TOT is not a tax on the operator, it is collected by the operator from the guest(s).

Late Payment

Any operator who fails to file the return and remit the tax within the time required shall pay penalty and interest. Interest is equal to one-half (0.5) percent per month as well as a penalty of 10 percent for each month. The penalty rates increase by an additional 10% per month. Penalties and interest cannot be contested or waived. Failure to remit TOT can result in a recorded lien against an owner, operator and authorized agent.

Sell, Transfer or Terminate Operations

Operators must notify the Marin County Tax Collector in writing, 30 days in advance of the termination, sale, or transfer date.

If the short-term rental is sold or transferred, a tax clearance certificate must be obtained by the Tax Collector after all taxes have been paid and reported. Requests for tax clearance certificates must be made in writing to tot@marincounty.org and must have a completed closeout form attached to be processed. Closeout forms are located below in Resources under “Paper Forms.

Notifying Neighbors

The public must be notified that a short-term rental is offered on a property either through placement of exterior signage or issuance of written notice to surrounding properties. See details at https://www.marincounty.org/main/short-term-rentals

To request exterior signage from the Department of Finance, please send email to tot@marincounty.org with the following information:

  • Name, phone number, and email address of a local emergency contact
  • Address of short-term rental
  • Business license and TOT number

To notify neighbors in writing, you will need to submit an affidavit to the Department of Finance.

Resources

Contact Information

Email

Phone: (415) 473-6123

In Person:
3501 Civic Center Dr
San Rafael, CA Rm.217

Mail:
Marin County Tax Collector
Att: TOT
PO BOX 4220
San Rafael, CA 94903

Online Applications and Payments

Please note that a business license account number is necessary for TOT applications, you must apply for the business license first.

Paper Forms

If you received a short-term rental non-compliance notice and the following apply, please complete one of the following affidavits:

West Marin Tax Increase as of January 1, 2019

On November 6, 2018, West Marin voted to increase the TOT rate for the western region of the County from 10% to 14%. Following the passage of Measure W, beginning January 1, 2019, TOT operators in the "TOT2" zone will be required to collect and remit an additional 4% Transient Occupancy Tax from guests. Tax revenue generated by "TOT2" will be used exclusively for the West County region.