Transient Occupancy Tax

Roy Given, Department of Finance

TRANSIENT OCCUPANCY TAX & BUSINESS LICENSE

  • Pay by mail:
    • Marin County Central Collections
      P.O. Box 4220, San Rafael CA 94913

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.

 

COVID 19 Information

A MESSAGE TO SHORT TERM RENTAL OPERATORS-COVID-19

Dear Short-Term Rental Operators:

The Public Health Officer for Marin County issued a new public health order, effective 12:00 PM on December 8, 2020.. This new order restricts lodging, hotel and short-term rental operations unless it is for critical infrastructure support.

Although there is a ban on short-term rentals (rentals 30 days or less), operators should continue to report TOT monthly, even if you have no rentals.

Additional information regarding the short-term rental restriction can be found on the Marin Recovers Website. Additional information regarding the public health order can be found on the Marin HHS Coronavirus site.

REPORTING TRANSIENT OCCUPANCY TAX

All normal reporting procedures remain in place regarding transient occupancy tax and business license. Please continue to complete the monthly TOT return even if you had no rentals.

To Report and Pay TOT.

OFFICE HOURS

For public health reasons, the physical office at the Civic Center for TOT is closed, until further notice. We will be operating remotely during normal business hours of 8:00 am – 4:30pm Monday through Friday and responding to online inquiries with a limited workforce, response times may be slower than usual.

Send us email.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Why do I still need to report each month if there is a ban on short-term rentals?

A: Marin County Ordinance 3.05 requires TOT to be reported each month, even if you have no rentals.

Q: As an operator, is it still okay to operate a short-term rental or operate my hotel/motel/bed-and-breakfast while there is an active public health order banning short-term rentals?

A: Not for vacationing purposes. Short-term lodging including short-term rentals, hotels, motels, and bed-and-breakfasts, may continue for the limited purposes of either:

  1. COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures, including measures to protect homeless populations (examples include isolation and quarantine or the housing of displaced persons);
  2. housing workers performing essential business activities and essential government functions within the County; or
  3. housing individuals staying overnight in Marin to perform the essential activity of caring for the health and safety needs of a family member.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL CODE COMPLIANCE

To report non-compliance of shelter in place order or complaints, please contact the County of Marin’s short-term rental hotline at (415) 300-4445 or submit online by filling out the form.

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.

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:

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).

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).

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 on our Short Term Rentals page.

To request exterior signage from the Department of Finance, please send us email 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 of Public Notification to the Department of Finance.

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 or sent by email and must have a completed closeout form attached to be processed. Closeout forms are located below in Resources under Forms.

Active Short-Term Rental Information

To search for an active short-term rental in the unincorporated area of the County of Marin by property address or business name visit, Search Business.

To view data for current and active short-term rentals and information regarding Transient Occupancy Tax for the unincorporated County of Marin, visit Marin Compass Open Data Portal.

Compliance Initiative

Marin County Uniform Transient Occupancy Tax Ordinance 3.05 was established in 1966. 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

Compliance Notification

If you received a short-term rental non-compliance notice, the following information must be provided and complete for full compliance by the due date on the notice.

  1. Registration — you will need to complete two registrations:
  2. Report Transient Occupancy Tax — you will need to provide completed TOT tax returns for the three-year compliance period. TOT Tax Compliance Returns.
  3. Remittance of Transient Occupancy Tax — you will need to provide payment in full of all outstanding TOT balance.
  4. Additional:

In office appointments are available Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Authorized Agents

Authorized Agents, any individual authorized by an operator to act on his/her behalf, are also 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.

Authorized Agents must be registered with the Marin County Tax Collector, have a valid business license, provide an owner’s authorization form and a list of properties they are managing annually. The Authorized Agent Registration form must be completed during the business license renewal period.

Checklist for Authorized Agents

Online Reporting: Instructions for Authorized Agents to link multiple TOT accounts

Online Platforms

The County of Marin entered into an agreement to remit the TOT collected directly to the Tax Collector with the following online platforms:

  • Airbnb (effective March 2017)
  • Vrbo (effective January 2021)

Each month, local operators must report total rent charged and TOT collected by Airbnb and Vrbo on their behalf to receive credit.  Operators must attach supporting documentation from Airbnb and Vrbo, reflecting all rents charged for each reporting period.

It is the responsibility of all operators, and authorized agents, to ensure the appropriate taxes are being collected and remitted each month.

The County of Marin does not have an agreement with any other online platforms to collect and remit TOT.  Operators who rent using sources other than Airbnb and Vrbo, must collect the TOT directly from their guests, and report total rent charged and TOT collected from all sources to the Tax Collector monthly.

Resources

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.

TOT Tax Returns

Forms

Affidavit

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

Contact Information

Email
Phone: (415) 473-6123

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

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

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.

Workshop

Currently, there are no TOT workshops scheduled. However, we are planning a workshop for the second quarter of 2021. Details will be announced soon.

Previous Workshops:

  • February 21, 2019 (Online services and Measure W)
  • November 14, 2018 (Online services and TOT Compliance)

Video Tutorials