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San Luis Obispo County, California


Transient Occupancy Tax

Certificates, TOT

The County ordinance requires operators to have the "Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate" posted in a conspicuous place on the premises at all times. Auditors have observed that some operators were not aware of this requirement. A copy of your certificate can be obtained by contacting (805) 781-5832.

Vacation Rentals May Require Special Permitting from the Planning Department

All Business License and Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate Applicants are required to obtain a Land Use Authorization from the County Planning Department before a License and Certificate can be issued. Please be aware that Vacation Rentals may require additional permitting or may be ineligible for a License or Certificate, depending on location. Please see the County Planning Department's Residential Vacation Rental Users Guide for more information.



Federal Government Employees traveling on official business are exempt from payment of TOT. Employees of a federal credit union, traveling on official credit union business are also exempt from payment of the tax. To receive the exemption, a copy of a Transient Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate must be filed with the tax return. There is no change to the exemption for officers or employees of foreign governments. The exemption does not extend to State and local government employees.

Extra Fees

Extra fees added to room rents, such as pet fees or energy fees, are part of the consideration for the occupancy of the room per County Ordinance, Chapter 3.08. Therefore, extra fees are subject to Transient Occupancy Tax.

Hotel Audits

In an audit, TOT returns are reconciled to hotel books and records to verify total receipts, exemptions claimed, and the tax remitted. Registration cards, room logs, and daily/monthly summaries are also examined. The cooperation of the operators that were selected for audit is appreciated.

Package Deals

When a "package rate" is offered the operator must identify and list separately on all copies of the receipt or other records of the operator, the following items: (1) room portion of the package rate; (2) non-room portion of the package rate; (3) Transient Occupancy Tax charged on the room portion; and (4) any use/sales tax charged on the non-room portion. The amount charged for non-room rent items cannot be more than the prices normally charged for those items. Amenities that are advertised or offered as "complimentary" or "free" are not deductible from room rents.

Record Keeping

The County ordinance requires operators to keep and preserve records for a period of three years. The minimum records, which are necessary to keep, are listed on the reverse side of each TOT return, which include pre-numbered receipts showing the amount of payment for room rent, with the room rent separate from the amount of the TOT paid. Any operator that does not maintain the minimum records required is subject to an estimate of the tax.


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