Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Filing Instructions for a Website Company or Merchant of Record

In order to help website companies better understand their San Francisco Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) obligations, the Tax Collector is providing the following additional guidance. 

A website company or merchant of record is defined as a person other than an owner, possessor, or on-site proprietor who receives payment for rent in connection with an occupancy transaction, including when payment is made to an Internet- or web-based company for occupancy of a guest room in San Francisco.  Please see Tax Collector Regulation 2012-1.

Pursuant to the San Francisco Business Tax and Regulations Code and Tax Collector Regulation 2012-1, all operators—including website companies and merchants of record—are required to obtain a Business Registration Certificate and a Certificate of Authority to collect transient occupancy taxes, and to file and pay transient occupancy tax monthly.

Filing and Paying the TOT

Website companies are considered operators under the Business and Tax Regulations Code.  The Code requires operators to make monthly TOT filings and payments.  Website companies do not need to pay the Tourism Improvement District (TID) Assessment or the Moscone Expansion District (MED) Assessment for bookings in private residences. 

A website company or merchant of record may not submit this filing through the Office of Treasurer & Tax Collector’s online system. Instead, a website company or merchant of record is required to submit its filing on an Excel spreadsheet by including the following data. This form may not be submitted by any other TOT filers. 

  1. Host ID
  2. Reservation ID
  3. Posting Date
  4. Booking Date
  5. Physical address of location
  6. Name of person who is the owner, possessor, or on-site proprietor for the location
  7. Any Business Account Number for the person named in #2 above
  8. Any Certificate of Authority for the person named in #2 above
  9. Gross amounts received for occupancy transactions at the location
  10. Amounts remitted to the owner, possessor, or on-site proprietor for the location
  11. Exemption Information:
    1. Rent for Occupancy by Permanent Residents
    2. Rent for Occupancy by Exempt Corporations or Associations
    3. Rent for Occupancy where the charge is less than $40 per day or $100 per week
    4. Rent for Occupancy by Government Employees on Official Business
    5. Total exemptions (total of lines 7a through 7d)
  12. Taxable Rent (#5 minus #7e)
  13. TOT payment due: #8 x 14%
  14. Indicate “Y” if the person associated with the Business Account Number listed in #3 is separately filing and remitting TOT.  This information will be used to process claims for refunds in case of duplicate payments.  Unless the Tax Collector informs you otherwise in writing, you must still report and remit the full amount of TOT owed on all occupancy transactions on a monthly basis, regardless whether you believe that the owner, possessor, or on-site proprietor is doing so.

Acceptable Formats for Location Information

Location information must be provided as a comma delimited file, or an Excel file.

This information may be sent via email to: businesstax.ttx@sfgov.org as a document attachment or a ZIP file, or provided via CD-ROM, flash drive, or other electronic medium accompanying the filing.

Business Registration Requirement

Pursuant to the San Francisco Business Tax and Regulations Code, all website companies and merchants of record receiving rent in connection with an occupancy transaction for San Francisco property are required to obtain a Business Registration Certificate.  Business Registration information is available here.

Certificate of Authority

A website company or merchant of record doing business in San Francisco must apply for and receive a Certificate of Authority. 

A COA application is available here.

Qualified Website Company

For the purpose of efficient tax collection and administration, the Office of Treasurer & Tax Collector will allow a qualified website company to enter into an agreement with a host to act as the host’s agent for collection of TOT, under which the website company undertakes the obligation to collect and remit the entirety of TOT on each transaction and to report and remit TOT and tax filings to the Office of Treasurer & Tax Collector.  For hosts that do businesses only through a qualified website company, the host will not be required to submit TOT filings or to obtain a Certificate of Authority.

A website company or merchant of record wishing to declare they are a qualified website company may submit a Declaration to the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector.  The Declaration form is available here.

Please note that this guidance pertains only to San Francisco tax obligations arising out of the business of providing transient accommodations in San Francisco.  This guidance does not address California and federal tax obligations arising out of that business.  This guidance also does not address other legal constraints or prohibitions on the business of providing transient accommodations in San Francisco, such as planning, zoning, or regulatory permit requirements.  To the extent that any of this guidance may conflict with either the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code or Tax Collector Regulations, those shall control.