Transient Occupancy Tax (Hotel Tax)

Who can use this service?

Anyone can use this service.

Is there a charge for this service?

This service is provided free of charge.

When and where is this service offered?

This service is available throughout the year during regular business hours except during scheduled holidays.

 

Renew an existing Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate (or a Business License)

 

Location, directions and hours of operation

Click on location name to show hours of operation, directions and phone information

New Government Center

Monday - Friday 8-5

1055 Monterey Street Room D290 San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

Tel: (805) 781-5831

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the agreement with Airbnb?

On August 22, 2017, the County of San Luis Obispo and Airbnb reached an agreement that provides that Airbnb will automatically collect the 9% Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), 1% Tourism Marketing District (TMD) assessment, and, in the areas where applicable, the 2% Business Improvement District (BID) assessment. These required taxes and assessments will be automatically added to the amounts collected from renters when a reservation is made on Airbnb for a stay in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County.

The Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector (ACTTC) is responsible for issuing County Business Licenses (necessary for all short-term rentals) and collecting TOT, TMD, and BID assessments in the County (outside of city limits).

In which areas does Airbnb collect Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT)?

This agreement only applies to properties in the unincorporated areas of the County, i.e., those areas outside of city limits.

For information on Transient Occupancy Taxes and assessments and collection procedures within the city limits of Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, and the City of San Luis Obispo, please contact the respective city office.

Why did the County enter into an agreement with Airbnb?

Airbnb has become more popular and many property owners were confused about whether rentals arranged online required the collection of TOT and other assessments. Additionally, many online vacation rentals were not collecting TOT and other assessments which created an unfair situation for licensed vacation rentals which were collecting and remitting the required taxes and assessments. The County reached an agreement with Airbnb with the goal of creating a fair environment for all vacation rental operators while simplifying the TOT collection process for those operators using Airbnb.

Are there any additional costs to the County, operators, or guests as a result of the tax collection agreement with Airbnb?

No.  Airbnb calculates, collects, and remits TOT and assessments at no cost.

If I rent my property on Airbnb, am I required to have a County Business License?

Yes. All short-term rental activity (30 days or fewer) in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County are considered a business activity and a County Business License is required. The licensing process is generally quick and inexpensive.  Please read the ACTTC website on licensing vacation rentals for more information.

Will Airbnb collect TOT and assessments on properties I rent outside of the San Luis Obispo County unincorporated boundaries?

Airbnb will only collect taxes on properties located in jurisdictions that have entered into a collection agreement with Airbnb.  Airbnb determines collection of TOT and assessments based solely on the address of the listed property.  A listing of jurisdictions with collection agreements in place is available at www.airbnb.com

What is the easiest way to report and remit my rental information?

We strongly recommend that you report and remit your rental information on the Tax Collector’s TOT renewal website. Here is an example of reporting Airbnb activity:

ACTTC TOT Reporting website

Payments can be made via eCheck at no additional charge. Payments made via credit or debit card require an additional 2.39% processing fee (minimum $3.95). If you need any assistance reporting and remitting on our website, please contact our staff for assistance.

If I plan to only rent my property through Airbnb, do I need to report my rental activities to the ACTTC?

Yes. It is still necessary to report all rental activities to the ACTTC.  On the new TOT reporting form, gross rents are reported with a reduction line for any rents collected by Airbnb, arriving at taxable rents upon which TOT and applicable assessments are calculated and remitted by you to ACTTC.  In a scenario where all rentals occurred through Airbnb, the TOT form would be completed with Gross Rents, an equal reduction for Airbnb Transactions, resulting in Taxable Rents of ZERO with no payment due to ACTTC.

If I use Airbnb and OTHER methods, what rental activity do I report to the Tax Collector?

All rental activity must be reported to the ACTTC and you must collect and remit TOT and applicable assessments on rents received outside of Airbnb.  When reporting receipts from mixed sources to the ACTTC, report Gross Rents from all sources and a reduction for Airbnb rents under Airbnb Transactions.  The result represents net taxable rents upon which TOT and applicable assessments are calculated and remitted by you to the ACTTC. 

If reporting on the Tax Collector’s TOT website, for example, you should enter your Gross Rents (All rental income, including Airbnb) and then subtract out any deductions (including Airbnb) using the website interface.

ACTTC TOT Reporting website

 

The process is similar if reporting on a paper TOT Return form.

 

ACTTC TOT Return Example

When will Airbnb begin collecting TOT and assessments and how do I report transactions during the transition?

Airbnb will collect TOT and applicable assessments on bookings made by guests on or after October 1, 2017. Airbnb will not collect TOT and assessments at any point in time for bookings made prior to October 1, 2017, even if the prior bookings are for stays taking place on or after October 1, 2017.  For TOT reporting during the transition, include all transactions for the month in Gross Rents, with a deduction under Airbnb Transactions for any Airbnb bookings that occurred on or after October 1, 2017.

How will refunds of TOT related to cancellations be handled through Airbnb?

Based on information received from Airbnb, in the event that the reservation is canceled by the guest, depending on the host's cancellation policy, the guest will be refunded a pro rata portion of taxes if a refund is applicable. For example, if the guest receives a 50% refund, 50% of the TOT will also be refunded to the guest.  In partial refund situations, operators will report the 50% rent received from Airbnb with Gross Rents and an equal reduction for Airbnb Transactions, resulting in no TOT due from the operator for that transaction.  In the event that the reservation is canceled by the host, the guest will receive a full refund.  Canceled reservations are not part of reportable Gross Rents to the ACTTC.

Does this agreement affect any other online platforms (VRBO, Flipkey, etc.)?

No. Airbnb is the only online platform collecting and remitting TOT, TMD, and TBID to the County at this time.  You must continue to report rents received through other online platforms with Gross Rents and collect and remit TOT and other assessments for these stays.

When renting my property through Airbnb, what records should I keep?

Like any other property rented in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County, property owners are required to keep at least three years’ worth of records, subject to audit. In most cases, Airbnb can provide you with these records. We encourage you to regularly download these records for your own files.