Placer Co. spending $423K to beef up short-term rental tax collection

Amanda Rhoades

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Officials estimate that there are roughly 4,600 properties being used as short-term rentals in the unincorporated areas of Placer County, but not all of them are up to date on their taxes.

Placer County announced last week it is stepping up efforts to collect Transient Occupancy Tax from lodging properties, including short-term rentals.

In October, the county approved a $248,000 one-year contract with Host Compliance, a San Francisco-based research firm that helps local governments determine which properties are being used as short-term rentals.

As the Sierra Sun reported in November, Host Compliance helped the town of Truckee identify roughly 460 short-term rentals for the town of Truckee that were not up to date with their tax payments. Some weren’t even registered with the town at all.

A spokesperson from Placer County said the county won’t know how much TOT has gone unpaid until an initial survey of lodging providers is completed, but last year, the county collected $16.2 million in TOT revenue.

The county reported in August that its TOT revenue was up $3 million, or 18 percent, from the previous year.

Further, according to Placer County, Host Compliance will monitor trends, identify addresses of properties used for lodging, and monitor compliance and rental activity.

A separate company, MuniServices, whose $175,000 one-year contract was approved with the county back in June (in addition to the Host Compliance contract), will be responsible for assisting with frequent inspections of records to ensure lodging providers are complying with requirements.

Registered lodging operators should expect to receive letters in the coming weeks notifying them of the county’s plan to bring all properties into compliance, and several property owners will be selected for a review of their lodging tax records.

Much like how the town of Truckee dealt with its short-term rental properties, property owners will be given a 90-day grace period to comply with the TOT ordinance, which includes registration with the county and reporting and remitting past due tax for the previous calendar year.

Penalties will be calculated at 10 percent of the amount of tax, and interested is calculated at 1.5 percent per month.

Lodging properties in Placer County’s eastern slope, or the Lake Tahoe-area, are required to pay a tax rate of 10 percent, as compared with lodging properties on the western slope that are only required to pay a rate of 8 percent.

All lodging properties in the county, from hotels to short-term rentals, are required to pay the tax on lodging transactions.

Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at, 530-550-2653 or @akrhoades.

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