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Transient Occupancy Tax FAQ

What is considered a hotel?

  • Any structure, or any portion of a structure, which is occupied or intended or designed for occupancy by transients for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes and includes 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.
  • Hotel shall include a private campground where only a site and accompanying facilities are rented.

Who must pay the TOT?

The hotel guest (transient) must pay the TOT.

What are the City of Carlsbad's current Transient Occupancy Tax rate and assessments?

10% TOT Tax

$1 - Carlsbad Tourism Business Improvement District (CTBID)

$2 - Carlsbad Golf Lodging Business Improvement District (CGLBID) is for participating hotels


What are the exceptions for paying TOT? 

The guest is not considered a transient:

  • If there is an agreement in writing between the operator and the occupant providing for a longer than thirty day period of occupancy.
  • If there is no written agreement, the occupant is no longer considered a transient once a consecutive thirty day period of stay has been completed.

Other specific exemptions:

  • Any person as to whom or any occupancy as to which it is beyond the power of the city to impose the tax.
  • Any federal or state officer or employee when on official business.
  • Any officer or employee of a foreign government who is exempt by reason of express provision of federal law or international treaty.

What are the operator's duties?

  • To collect the tax imposed on the transient at the same time as the rent is collected.
  • If the operator collects the rent but fails to collect the tax imposed for any reason, the city shall require the operator to pay such tax.
  • The amount of tax shall be separately stated from the amount of the rent charge.
  • Each transient shall receive a receipt for payment from the operator. A duplicate copy of this receipt shall be kept by the operator.

What if the hotel ceases operations?

  • Each operator shall notify the Finance Department within 10 days upon the cessation of business for any reason and shall make his/her books and records available for audit.
  • Each operator, upon cessation of business for any reason, shall, on or before the same day of the next month following the cessation of business or on the last day of the month if no corresponding day exists, make a return to the Finance Department.
  • At the time the return if filed, the full amount of the balance of the tax due, if any, shall be remitted to the Finance Department.

When are payments due?

Monthly payments shall be due and payable on or before the last day of the month immediately following the month for which the payment is due.

Due dates
Delinquent on
February 1-28
March 1
March 1-31
April 1
April 1-30
May 1
May 1-31
June 1
June 1-30
July 1
July 1-31
August 1
August 1-31
September 1
September 1-30
October 1
October 1-31
November 1
November 1-30
December 1
December 1-31
January 1
January 1-31
February 1

How should the taxes be paid?

  • All operators shall remit monthly the full amount of taxes collected on the Transient occupancy tax return form.
  • Taxes may be remitted by mailing or delivering a check, money order, or cash to the Finance Department, together with the form provided by the department on or before the due date.
  • Mailed returns should be sent to the City of Carlsbad, Finance Department.

What is the penalty if an operator fails to pay the monthly payment or file a quarterly tax return on time?

  • Any operator who fails to remit any tax imposed within the time required, shall pay a penalty of 10 percent of the amount of the tax in addition to the amount of the tax.
  • Any operator, who fails to remit any delinquent remittance on or before a period of 30 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 and the ten percent penalty first imposed.
  • In addition to the penalties imposed, any operator who fails to remit any tax imposed shall pay interest at the rate of 1.5 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.

If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a holiday, when is the filing delinquent?

The filing is delinquent by the close of the next business day. For example, if the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the payment must be made on the following banking day.