Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is levied on the rent charged by the operator for the privilege of occupying a room or rooms or other living space in a hotel, inn, tourist home or house, motel, studio hotel, bachelor hotel, lodging house, rooming house, apartment house, dormitory, public or private club, mobile home or house trailer at a fixed location, or other similar structure or portion thereof for a period of thirty (30) days or less.

TOT is authorized under State Revenue and Taxation Code Section 7280 and San Mateo County Ordinance Code Chapter 5.136. The County ordinance provides that the County of San Mateo collect TOT for the unincorporated areas of the county. This tax is also called “Hotel” tax or “Room” tax. Operators are required to obtain a “Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate” within thirty (30) days after commencing business. Once registered, the operator must post the Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate in a conspicuous place on the premises at all times.

The current TOT rate, effective October 2, 1990, is ten (10%) percent. Each operator shall, on or before the last day of the month following the close of each calendar quarter, or at the close of any shorter reporting period established by the Tax Collector, complete a tax return. The tax return is used to report the total rents charged and received and the amount of tax collected for transient occupancy. Each operator shall collect the tax at the same time as rent is collected from every transient. The amount of tax shall be separately stated from the amount of rent charged, and each transient shall receive a receipt for payment from the operator. All TOT reporting forms are provided on our website. The full amount of tax collected shall be remitted to the Tax Collector at the time the return is filed. A tax return must be filed even if no tax is reported or collected, otherwise, your tax will be estimated for you. Operators are required to keep and preserve, for a period of three years, all records necessary to determine the amount of tax. The Tax Collector shall have the right to inspect these records at all reasonable times. The Tax Collector is authorized to record a “Certificate of Delinquent Transient Occupancy Tax Due” lien with the County Recorder against any operator or other person who fails to remit taxes, penalties or interest due within stipulated timeframes.

Any operator or other person who violates any of the provisions of the County ordinance, or who renders a false or fraudulent return, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is punishable as otherwise provided pursuant to 5.136.130 of the Ordinance Code.

Transient Occupancy Tax Forms