Transient Occupancy Taxes and Business Improvement Area Assessments

The Revenue Accounting division handles the assessment and collection of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and Business Improvement Area (BIA) assessment.

Download TOT and BIA forms.

Transient Occupancy Taxes

The assessment of transient occupancy taxes is based upon Sonoma County ordinances 5823 and 6173

The Transient Occupancy Tax (Hotel, Motel, Campground or Bed Tax) is authorized under State Revenue and Taxation Code Section 7280, as an additional source of non-property tax revenue to local government. This tax is levied in Sonoma County at a rate of 12% for accommodations at lodging and camping facilities in the unincorporated areas of the County. TOT funds are discretionary, in that the Board of Supervisors may direct use of these funds for any legitimate county expense. The tax code does not require any specific use of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) funds.

Business Improvement Area Assessments

The BIA assessment is based upon Sonoma County ordinance 5525.

To date, seven cities have approved consent resolutions and joined the BIA. The Treasurer-Tax Collector collects the 2% BIA assessment from qualifying entities in the unincorporated areas of the County and also remittances from the member cities. These funds are designated specifically to market overnight stays in the Business Improvement Area. Visit Sonoma County Tourism's site to learn more about the BIA.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Transient Occupancy Tax?

    Transient Occupancy Tax, also commonly known as ‘bed tax’, is authorized under State Revenue and Taxation Code Section 7280, as an additional source of non-property tax revenue to local government. This tax is levied at a rate of 12% in Sonoma County.

  2. Who needs to register for a Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate? 

    Anyone who plans to operate a lodging facility (Hotel, Motel, Bed & Breakfast, Campground, Second Home, etc.) in the unincorporated area of Sonoma County is required to register with the Tax Collector’s office. In-person registrations are processed at the Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD) located at 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA.

    Please visit PRMD's website or contact the vacation rental desk at (707) 565-1932 to determine their business hours.

  3. Can I include the tax in my stated room rate? 

    No. Transient Occupancy Tax must be charged and tracked separately from the stated room rate. 

  4. How long should I maintain my records? 

    Operators of lodging facilities are required to keep and preserve records for a period of five (5) years, including all records that may be necessary to determine the amount of tax due in the event of an audit. 

  5. How do I calculate the amount of tax due? 

    The amount of tax is 12% of Gross Rents received (less any exemption[s]) in a reporting period. See TOT Ordinance Nos. 5823 and 6173 for additional information.

  6. Where can I get help calculating my tax? 

    Email your question(s) to tot@sonoma-county.org or contact us at (707) 565-7133.

  7. How often do I need to pay Transient Occupancy Tax? 

    Unless otherwise arranged, Transient Occupancy Tax is due quarterly. Registered operators are sent a quarterly statement approximately ten (10) days prior to the end of each calendar quarter. Tax payments are due postmarked no later than the last day of the month following the end of the calendar quarter for which the taxes are due. 

  8. A qualified federal or state officer/employee on official business has requested an exemption from Transient Occupancy Tax. How do I process their exemption? 

    An exemption for Governmental Agencies form must be filed with your quarterly return. This form is required for all qualified governmental exemptions and must be filled out entirely for the exemption to be valid.

  9. An officer or employee of a foreign government has requested an exemption from Transient Occupancy Tax. How do I process their exemption?

    An exemption for Governmental Agencies form must be filed with your quarterly return. This form is required for all qualified governmental exemptions and must be filled out entirely for the exemption to be valid. 

  10. We did not have any guests during the most recent reporting period; we are closed for the season, or all guests stayed over 30 consecutive days. Do we still have to complete a return? 

    Yes. Regardless of whether any qualified rents are received for the reporting period a return is required to be filed. Otherwise, your tax will be estimated for you. If you have exemptions due to stays over 30 consecutive days you must remit an exemption for occupancy over 30 days form with your return. 

  11. We plan to sell or close the business. What do we need to do? 

    In either event, contact our office in person, by telephone, or e-mail so we can assist you. If you plan on closing the business, then you must return your Certificate to us. If necessary, our staff will assist you with preparing a final return. If you are selling the business, we will assist the seller and the buyer with the transfer of the Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate. 

  12. The last day of the reporting period falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, when is the last day I can pay my Transient Occupancy Tax without penalty? 

    Your return must be postmarked or delivered to the Tax Collector’s office on or before 5:00 p.m. the next business day. Note: Postage meter imprints do not qualify as a valid postmark.

  13. There has been a change in ownership or a change to other information contained on my registration form, what should I do?

    Contact the Tax Collector’s office and request a new registration form or download the Registration form from this website. Complete the form with the new information and return it to the Tax Collector.

  14. I misplaced my Transient Occupancy Tax return and need a replacement, what should I do?

    Visit our Forms page using the left navigation bar or the link at the top of this page to download a blank TOT return form. Contact our office at (707) 565-7133 if you need additional assistance.

  15. Where do I mail my quarterly return?

    Sonoma County Treasurer-Tax Collector
    Attn: T.O.T.
    P.O. Box 3879
    Santa Rosa, CA 95402

  16. Do I need a permit to operate a vacation rental?

    Yes, if you are operating a vacation rental outside the coastal zone. For more information about Vacation Rental Permits visit PRMD’s website. 

Program and Agency Links

County of Sonoma Advertising Program
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors established the advertising program and policy in 1986 utilizing Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) funds. The promotion of tourism and visitor service centers are the primary uses of the funds.

Economic Development Board
The Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) provides assistance services directed toward encouraging the startup, retention and expansion of Sonoma County businesses and jobs.

Sonoma County Tourism Program
The Sonoma County Tourism Program (SCTP) is committed to assisting professional journalists, editors and producers find the information they need in a timely manner. The SCTP provides assistance to the working press filing stories about Sonoma County as a travel destination.

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
Please visit the Board of Supervisor’s website to obtain information on board meetings, services and information, supervisor assignments, press releases, and other items of interest.

Clear here to view a copy of the Airbnb Voluntary Collection Agreement (VCA) dated November 15, 2016.

Contact Information

Brooke Koop, CPA

Accounting Manager

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address
Auditor–Controller Treasurer–Tax Collector Main Office
585 Fiscal Drive
Suite 100
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465764, -122.725126