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3.56 Transient Occupancy Tax


3.56.010 Title.
3.56.020 Definitions.
3.56.030 General tax.
3.56.035 Special tax.
3.56.040 Exemptions.
3.56.050 Operator duties.
3.56.060 Registration.
3.56.070 Reporting--Remitting.
3.56.080 Penalties--Interest.
3.56.090 Failure to collect and report--Tax determination.
3.56.100 Records.
3.56.110 Refunds.
3.56.120 Actions to collect.
3.56.130 Appeal.
3.56.140 Special fund.

3.56.010 TITLE. This chapter shall be known as, and may be cited as, the "uniform transient occupancy tax of the city of San Mateo." (Prior code § 58.5.01).

3.56.020 DEFINITIONS. Except where the context otherwise requires, the definitions given in this section govern the construction of this chapter:
(1)  "Hotel" means any structure, or any portion of any structure which is occupied or intended or designed for occupancy by transients for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes, and includes any 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;
(2)  "Occupancy" means the use or possession, or the right to the use or possession of any room or rooms or portions thereof, in any hotel for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes;
(3)  "Operator" means the person who is proprietor of the hotel, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, sublessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee, or any other capacity. Where the operator performs his functions through a managing agent of any type or character other than an employee, the managing agent shall also be deemed an operator for the purposes of this chapter and shall have the same duties and liabilities as his principal. Compliance with the provisions of this chapter by either the principal or the managing agent shall, however, be considered to be compliance by both;
(4)  "Rent" means the consideration charged, whether or not received, for the occupancy of space in a hotel valued in money, whether to be received in money, goods, labor or otherwise, including all receipts, cash, credits and property and services of any kind or nature, without any deduction therefrom whatsoever;
(5)  "Transient" means any person who exercises occupancy or is entitled to occupancy by reason of concession, permit, right of access, license or other agreement for a period of thirty consecutive calendar days or less, counting portions of calendar days as full days. Any such person so occupying space in a hotel shall be deemed to be a transient until the period of thirty days has expired unless there is an agreement in writing between the operator and the occupant providing for a longer period of occupancy. In determining whether a person is a transient, uninterrupted periods of time extending both prior and subsequent to the effective date of this chapter may be considered. (Prior code § 58.5.02).


3.56.030  GENERAL TAX.  For the privilege of occupancy in any hotel, each transient is subject to and shall pay a general tax in the amount of ten percent of the rent charged by the operator.  Said tax constitutes a debt owed by the transient to the city which is extinguished only by payment to the operator or to the city.  The transient shall pay the tax to the operator of the hotel at the time the rent is paid.  If the rent is paid in installments, a proportionate share of the tax shall be paid with each installment.  The unpaid tax shall be due upon the transient's ceasing to occupy space in the hotel.  If for any reason the tax due is not paid to the operator of the hotel, the tax collector may require that such tax shall be paid directly to the tax collector.  (Ord. 2009-13 § 1, 2009; Ord. 1978-10 § 1, 1978; Ord. 1973-31 § 1, 1973; Ord. 1969-21 § 1, 1969: prior code § 58.5.03).
3.56.035     SPECIAL TAX.  In addition to the general transient occupancy tax imposed pursuant to section 3.56.030, there shall be imposed a 2% special tax for the purpose of financing capital improvements within the City; provided that the special tax proceeds shall first be expended for the following police and fire facilities:


Police Station: Seismic upgrading, gender modifications, Americans with Disabilities Act modifications, remodel lobby and an addition of approximately 7500 sq. ft., and related works and structures necessary or convenient for said improvements; and
Fire Stations: Seismic upgrading, gender modifications, Americans with Disabilities Act modifications, building system upgrades, minor functional improvements, and related works and structures necessary or convenient for said improvements.
The term "first" as used herein with respect to police and fire facilities shall mean an initial priority but not a continuing priority. When the initial priority is met as determined by the City Council in its judgment, police and fire facilities shall have no legal priority over other capital improvements with respect to the increase.  (Ord. 2009-13 § 2, 2009; Ord. 1998-33 § 1, 1998.)

3.56.040 EXEMPTIONS. No tax shall be imposed upon:
(1)  Any person as to whom or any occupancy as to which, it is beyond the power of the city to impose the tax herein provided;
(2)  Occupancy of rooms by officers or employees of a legal entity which has a written lease upon said rooms for at least one year, and which leased rooms are not available to the general public at all times during the lease period. Said rooms must exceed fifty percent of the total units in the facility to qualify for the exemption;
(3)  No such exemptions shall be claimed or granted except upon a written claim therefor made under the penalty of perjury at the time rent is collected upon a form prescribed by the tax collector. Each operator shall file the claims or true copies thereof, with the tax collector with any return upon which exemptions are claimed; except that exemptions based upon a written lease, may be claimed by filing a true copy of said lease with the tax collector with the first return following execution of the lease, and making reference to it in each return thereafter during its term. (Ord. 1979-36 § 1, 1979: prior code § 58.5.04).

3.56.050 OPERATOR DUTIES. Each operator shall collect the tax imposed by this chapter to the same extent and at the same time as the rent is collected from every transient. The amount of tax shall be separately stated from the amount of the rent charged, and each transient shall receive a receipt for payment from the operator. No operator of a hotel shall advertise or state in any manner, whether directly or indirectly, that the tax or any part thereof will be assumed or absorbed by the operator, or that it will not be added to the rent, or that, if added, any part will be refunded except in the manner hereinafter provided. (Prior code § 58.5.05).

3.56.060 REGISTRATION. Prior to the date upon which the tax hereby imposed becomes collectable, or within thirty days after commencing business, whichever is later, each operator of any hotel renting occupancy to transients shall register the hotel with the license bureau and obtain therefrom a transient occupancy registration certificate to be at all times posted in a conspicuous place on the premises. Said certificate shall, among other things, state the following:
(1)  The name of the operator;
(2)  The address of the hotel;
(3)  The date upon which the certificate was issued;
(4)  "This Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate signifies that the person named on the face hereof has fulfilled the requirements of Chapter 3.56 of the San Mateo Municipal Code, the Uniform Transient Occupancy Tax, by registering with the license bureau for the purpose of collecting from transients the transient occupancy tax and remitting said tax to the tax collector. This certificate does not authorize any person to conduct any unlawful business or to conduct any lawful business in an unlawful manner, nor to operate a hotel without strictly complying with all local applicable laws, including but not limited to those requiring a permit from any board, commission, department or office of the City of San Mateo. This certificate does not constitute a permit." (Prior code § 58.5.06).

3.56.070 REPORTING -- REMITTING. 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 which may be established by the tax collector, make a return to the tax collector, on forms provided by him, of the total rents charged and received and the amount of tax collected for transient occupancies. At the time the return is filed, the full amount of the tax collected shall be remitted to the tax collector. The tax collector may establish shorter reporting periods for any certificate holder if he deems it necessary in order to insure collection of the tax and he may require further information in the return. Returns and payments are due immediately upon cessation of business for any reason. All taxes collected by operators pursuant to this chapter shall be held in trust for the account of the city until payment thereof is made to the tax collector. (Prior code § 58.5.07).

3.56.080 PENALTIES -- INTEREST. (a)  Original Delinquency. Any operator who fails to remit any tax imposed by this chapter within the time required shall pay a penalty of ten percent of the amount of the tax in addition to the amount of the tax.
(b)  Continued Delinquency. Any operator who fails to remit any delinquent remittance on or before a period of thirty days following the date on which the remittance first became delinquent shall pay a second delinquency penalty of ten percent of the amount of the tax in addition to the amount of the tax and the ten percent penalty first imposed.
(c)  Fraud. If the tax collector determines that the nonpayment of any remittance due under this chapter is due to fraud, the penalty of twenty-five percent of the amount of the tax shall be added thereto in addition to the penalties stated in (a) and (b) of this section.
(d)  Interest. In addition to the penalties imposed, any operator who fails to remit any tax imposed by this chapter, shall pay interest at the rate of one-half of one percent per month or fraction thereof on the amount of the tax, exclusive of penalties, from the date on which the remittance first became delinquent until paid.
(e)  Penalties Merged with Tax. Every penalty imposed and such interest as accrues under the provisions of this section shall become a part of the tax herein required to be paid. (Prior code § 58.5.08).

3.56.090 FAILURE TO COLLECT AND REPORT -- TAX DETERMINATION. If any operator fails or refuses to collect the tax and to make, within the time provided in this chapter, any report and remittance of the tax or any portion thereof required by this chapter, the tax collector shall proceed in such manner as he may deem best to obtain facts and information on which to base his estimate of the tax due. As soon as the tax collector procures such facts and information as he is able to obtain upon which to base the assessment of any tax imposed by this chapter and payable by any operator who has failed or refused to collect the same and to make such report and remittance, he shall proceed to determine and assess against such operator the tax, interest and penalties provided for by this chapter. In case such determination is made, the tax collector shall give a notice of the amount so assessed by serving it personally or by depositing it in the United States mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the operator so assessed at his last known place of address. Such operator may within ten days after the serving or mailing of such notice make application in writing to the tax collector for a hearing on the amount assessed. If application by the operator for a hearing is not made within the time prescribed, the tax, interest and penalties, if any, determined by the tax collector, shall become final and conclusive and immediately due and payable. If such application is made, the tax collector shall give not less than five days' written notice in the manner prescribed herein to the operator to show cause at a time and place fixed in said notice why said amount specified therein should not be fixed for such tax, interest and penalties. At such hearing, the operator may appear and offer evidence why such specified tax, interest and penalties should not be so fixed. After such hearing the tax collector shall determine the proper tax to be remitted and shall thereafter give written notice to the person in the manner prescribed herein of such determination and the amount of such tax, interest and penalties. The amount determined to be due shall be payable after fifteen days unless an appeal is taken as provided in Section 3.56.130. (Prior code § 58.5.09).

3.56.100 RECORDS. It shall be the duty of every operator liable for the collection and payment to the city of any tax imposed by this chapter to keep and preserve for a period of three years, all records as may be necessary to determine the amount of such tax as he may have been liable for the collection of and payment to the city, which records the tax collector shall have the right to inspect at all reasonable times. (Prior code § 58.5.10).

3.56.110 REFUNDS. (a)  An operator may claim a refund or take as credit against taxes collected and remitted the amount overpaid, paid more than once or erroneously or illegally collected or received when it is established in a manner prescribed by the tax collector that the person from whom the tax has been collected was not a transient; provided, however, that neither a refund nor a credit shall be allowed unless the amount of the tax so collected has either been refunded to the transient or credited to rent subsequently payable by the transient to the operator.
(b)  A transient may obtain a refund of taxes overpaid or paid more than once or erroneously or illegally collected or received by the city by filing a claim in the manner provided in (a) of this section, but only when the tax was paid by the transient directly to the tax collector, or when the transient having paid the tax to the operator, established to the satisfaction of the tax collector that the transient has been unable to obtain a refund from the operator who collected the tax.
(c)  No refund shall be paid under the provisions of this section unless the claimant establishes his right thereto by written records showing entitlement thereto. (Ord. 2001-23 § 3, 2001; prior code § 58.5.11).

3.56.120 ACTIONS TO COLLECT. Any tax required to be paid by any transient under the provisions of this chapter is a debt owed by the transient to the city. Any such tax collected by an operator which has not been paid to the city shall be deemed a debt owed by the operator to the city. Any person owing money to the city under the provisions of this chapter is liable to an action brought in the name of the city for the recovery of such amount. (Prior code § 58.5.12).

3.56.130 APPEAL. Any operator aggrieved by any decision of the tax collector with respect to the amount of such tax, interest and penalties, if any, may appeal to the city council by filing a notice of appeal with the city clerk within fifteen days of the serving or mailing of the determination of tax due. The city council shall fix a time and place for hearing such appeal, and the city clerk shall give notice in writing to such operator at his last known place of address. The findings of the council shall be final and conclusive and shall be served upon the appellant in the manner prescribed above for service of notice of hearing. Any amount found to be due shall be immediately due and payable upon the service of notice. (Prior code § 58.5.13).

3.56.140 SPECIAL FUND. There shall be established and maintained a special fund called transient occupancy tax fund into which shall be deposited all taxes and penalties collected pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. The council may, from time to time, allocate any or all of said taxes and penalties collected as it deems proper; and, provided that said fund shall be liable for any expenses incurred by reason of the administration and collection of the tax imposed by this chapter. (Ord. 1980-4 § 1, 1980; Ord. 1978-10 § 2, 1978: prior code § 58.5.14).



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