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Transient Occupancy Tax

Frequently Asked Questions

PLEASE NOTE: The FAQs provided are for general information only. They do not provide specifics and cannot be used as a defense against any alleged violations. Please refer to the Uniform Transient Occupancy Tax Ordinance of Ventura County or contact our office for assistance with specific questions or concerns.

  1. What is the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)?
  2. What is the Ojai Tourism Improvement District (OTID) Tax?
  3. What areas are considered “Unincorporated Areas” of Ventura County?
  4. Which Ventura County department/agency is responsible for collecting the TOT?
  5. Who needs to register for a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate?
  6. Do I also need a Business Tax Certificate if I have registered for a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate?
  7. Does TOT apply to Vacation Rentals?
  8. Who is a “Transient”?
  9. What is the definition of “Occupancy”?
  10. Who is an "Operator"?
  11. How do you define "Rent"?
  12. What is the definition of "Hotel"?
  13. Does an operator need to charge the TOT if a room is rented for less than a full day (e.g. hourly room rates)?
  14. When should the operator collect TOT?
  15. Are there exemptions from TOT?
  16. When is payment of the TOT due to the Tax Collector?
  17. How should the tax amount be calculated?
  18. Where do I mail my payment?
  19. What happens if there is a late payment, no payment, or insufficient payment?
  20. Can an operator request a waiver of penalties and interest?
  21. How can an operator request a refund of the TOT?
  22. How long should the operator’s records be kept as it relates to inspections and audits?
  23. Who do I contact if I have additional questions or concerns?

1. What is the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)?

The Uniform Transient Occupancy Tax Ordinance of the Municipal Code of Ventura County is authorized by the California Revenue & Taxation Code (R&T Code Sec. 7280). Under the Code, entities who provide lodging to “transient” guests in the unincorporated areas of the County are required to charge the TOT of eight percent (8%) of the rent charged. The tax is commonly known as a “hotel tax” or “bed tax” and applies to transient stays of up to 30 consecutive days.

2. What is the Ojai Tourism Improvement District (OTID) Tax?

The Ojai Tourism Improvement District is a benefit assessment district developed by Ojai lodging businesses and the Ojai Chamber of Commerce to help fund marketing and tourist promotion efforts for the Ojai Valley (OTID Management District Plan 2012-2017). The OTID includes all lodging businesses located within the boundaries of the district to include the city of Ojai and the surrounding unincorporated areas. The OTID annual assessment rate is one percent (1%) of the taxable short term rents for lodging businesses. The County of Ventura Tax Collector is responsible for collecting the assessment from each lodging business located in the unincorporated areas, in accordance with the local TOT ordinance.

3. What areas are considered “Unincorporated Areas” of Ventura County?

The County of Ventura considers any area not within a city limit to be an unincorporated area. The following County map shows the incorporated cities and unincorporated areas of Ventura County: County View Map.

4. Which Ventura County department/agency is responsible for collecting the TOT?

The Ventura County Treasurer-Tax Collector (TTC) is responsible for collecting the TOT.

5. Who needs to register for a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate?

Any person/entity who operates or plans to operate a lodging facility within the unincorporated areas of Ventura County is required to register with the Ventura County Tax Collector’s office to obtain a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate. (Chapter 2: Article 2 – Registration Sec.11221, 11222 & 11223)

6. Do I also need a Business Tax Certificate if I have registered for a Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate?

Yes. All Rental and Lease operators in the unincorporated areas are required to obtain a Business Tax Certificate through the Tax Collector's office. You may contact the Business License section at (805) 654-2653 for additional information and assistance.

7. Does TOT apply to Vacation Rentals?

You may be obligated to acquire a Business Tax Certificate and pay TOT to the County of Ventura if you rent a residential property to transients for periods of 30 consecutive days or less within the unincorporated areas. These properties are often described as short-term vacation rentals, and listed on websites such as Airbnb.com. These rentals are subject to the ordinance. This does not apply to owners who continuously reside on the property while renting out rooms.

8. Who is a “Transient”?

Transient: Any person who occupies or is entitled to occupy a room(s) by any type of agreement for a period of thirty (30) consecutive calendar days or less, counting portions of days as full days. (Chapter 1: Article 2 – Definitions Sec. 11125)

What is the definition of “Occupancy”?

Occupancy: Taking possession of a room(s) for the purpose of dwelling, sleeping or lodging. (Chapter 1: Article 2 – Definitions Sec. 11124)

10. Who is an "Operator"?

Operator: The person who is the proprietor of the hotel, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, sub-lessee, holder of the mortgage, or managing agent of owner. (Chapter 1: Article 2 – Definitions Sec. 11127)

11. How do you define "Rent"?

Rent: The amount charged, whether received or not, by the operator for the occupancy of a space in a “hotel” valued in money, whether to be received in money, goods, and labor or otherwise, including all receipts, cash, credits and property and services of any kind or nature, without any deductions whatsoever. (Chapter 1: Article 2 – Definitions Sec. 11126)

12. What is the definition of "Hotel"?

Hotel: Any structure in the unincorporated areas of the County which is occupied, or intended for occupancy, by a transient guest. (Chapter 1: Article 2 – Definitions Sec. 11123)

13. Does an operator need to charge the TOT if a room is rented for less than a full day (e.g. hourly room rates)?

Yes. For the purposes of the TOT, any portion of a calendar day is considered a full day and is taxable. (Chapter 1: Article 2 – Definitions Sec. 11125)

14. When should the operator collect TOT?

Each operator should collect the TOT at the time the rent is due from each transient guest. The amount of TOT should be separately stated from the amount of the rent charged and the transient should receive a receipt for payment from the operator. (Chapter 2: Article 1 – Imposition of Tax Sec. 11212 & 11215)

15. Are there exemptions from TOT?

Yes, there are exemptions. Any transient for which it is beyond the power of the County to impose the tax provided for in this ordinance, such as Federal employees on official business, are exempt, provided a Transient Occupancy Tax Designated Exemption Form is completed and filed with the operator.

16. When is payment of the TOT due to the Tax Collector?

Ventura County’s Transient Occupancy Tax is remitted by the operator on a quarterly basis as follows:

  • 1st Quarter: January 1st – March 31st, Due Date: April 30th
  • 2nd Quarter: April 1st – June 30th, Due Date: July 31st
  • 3rd Quarter: July 1st – September 30th, Due Date: October 31st
  • 4th Quarter: October 1st – December 31st, Due Date: January 31st

Taxes are to be reported on the Return on Transient Occupancy Tax form provided by the TTC. (Chapter 2: Article 3 – Reporting and Remitting Sec. 11231 & 11232)

17. How should the tax amount be calculated?

The 8% tax is calculated on the taxable rents for each quarterly period. Please refer to the filing instructions on the Return on Transient Occupancy Tax form.

18. Where do I mail my payment?

You should mail your payment, along with a completed quarterly Return on Transient Occupancy Tax form, to:

Ventura County Tax Collector
Attn: TOT
800 South Victoria Avenue Ventura, CA 93009-1290

Please make your check payable to: Ventura County Tax Collector.

19. What happens if there is a late payment, no payment, or insufficient payment?

If full payment of the TOT is not remitted by the operator within the time required, penalties and interest will be incurred as follows:

• A penalty of ten percent (10%) of the amount of the unpaid TOT will be due in addition the amount of unpaid TOT the day the payment first becomes delinquent

• If the payment continues to be delinquent thirty (30) days after the initial date of delinquency, the operator will also pay a second penalty of ten percent (10%) of the amount of the tax in addition to the amount of the tax and the ten (10%) percent penalty first imposed.

• In addition to the penalties, the operator will also pay simple interest at a rate of one-half of one percent (1/2%) per month or fraction thereof on the amount of tax, exclusive of the penalties, from the date on which the remittance first became delinquent until paid. (Chapter 2: Article 4 – Penalties and Interest Sec. 11241, 11242, 11244 & 11243)

20. Can an operator request a waiver of penalties and interest?

An operator may apply in writing to the Tax Collector for a hearing on the amount assessed if (s)he disagrees with the amount due or wants to show due cause for waiver of penalties and interest. The operator must submit his/her request for a hearing within ten (10) days from receiving notice of the amount due or the amount due determined by the Tax Collector shall become final and conclusive and immediately due and payable. (Chapter 2: Article 5 – Failure to Collect and Report Tax Sec. 11252, 11253, & 11254)

21. How can an operator request a refund of the TOT?

The operator may request a refund of the TOT that has been overpaid, paid more than once, or erroneously or illegally collected or received by the County. The operator must submit a claim in writing, stating under penalty of perjury the specific grounds upon which the claim is founded, and is filed with the Tax Collector within three (3) years of the date of payment. (Chapter 2: Article 7 – Refunds Tax Sec. 11271, 11272, 11273 & 11275)

22. How long should the operator’s records be kept as it relates to inspections and audits?

Every operator responsible for the collection and remittance of TOT is required to keep and preserve all records necessary to determine the amount of the tax for which (s)he is liable. Records must be kept for no less than three (3) years. The TTC may inspect these records at any reasonable time. (Chapter 2: Article 1 – Imposition of Tax Sec. 11216)

23. Who do I contact if I have additional questions or concerns?

If you have further questions or need additional assistance, please contact the Ventura County Tax Collector’s office at (805) 654-3775, Monday – Friday, 8 am to 5 pm PT, or submit an email to HelpingHand@ventura.org.

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