Transient Occupancy Tax

What is Transient Occupancy Tax

This tax is imposed on the transient tenant for occupying space or use of furnishings or other services or accommodations in a hotel, motel, or any other structure intended for occupancy by transients for dwelling, lodging, or sleeping purposes for a period of thirty (30) consecutive calendar days or less.

Definition of Terms Used with Transient Occupancy Tax


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 shall include any hotel, inn, tourist house or home, motel, studio hotel, bachelor hotel, lodging house, rooming house, apartment house, dormitory, public or private club. “Hotel” also includes a mobile home which is located outside a mobile home park when the tenant is not an employee of the owner or operator of the mobile home. “Hotel” does not include a hospital room, medical clinic, convalescent home or home for the aged.


The use or possession, or the right to the use or possession, of any room, or portion thereof, in any hotel for dwelling, lodging, or sleeping purposes.


The person who is the proprietor of the hotel, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, sublessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee, or any other capacity. This also includes vacation/part-time rental agencies.


Any individual, firm, partnership, joint venture, association, social club, fraternal organization, joint stock company, corporation, estate, trust, business trust, receiver, trustee, syndicate, or any other group or combination acting as a unit.


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, credit, and property and services of any kind or nature.


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 30 consecutive calendar days or less.

Who is the Transient Occupancy Tax Collected From?

All hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, etc., as defined under “hotel”, that are located in the unincorporated areas of Merced County. The tax is collected from the transient occupant and is paid to the hotel operator with the intended rent.

Who is Exempt?

  • Any occupancy exceeding 30 consecutive days.
  • Any Federal or State officer or employee on official business. (These claims for exemptions must be accompanied by an exemption certificate.)
  • Any occupancy of hotels reserved exclusively for religious, charitable, educational, or welfare purposes.

Transient Occupancy Tax Exemption Form

County Ordinance Regarding Transient Occupancy Tax

View a copy of the Merced County Transient Occupancy Tax Ordinance here.

How is Transient Occupancy Tax Paid to the Tax Collector?

Occupancy Tax is reported on a quarterly basis. The tax is due and payable on the 1st day following the end of the quarter.

  • 1st quarter – January, February, March – delinquent if not paid by April 30
  • 2nd quarter – April, May, June – delinquent if not paid by July 31
  • 3rd quarter – July, August, September – delinquent if not paid by October 31
  • 4th quarter – October, November, December – delinquent if not paid by January 31

Quarterly Tax Returns Form

Apply for a Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate

Transient Occupancy Tax Registration

Please mail your completed application to:

Karen D. Adams, CPA
Merced County Treasurer/Tax Collector
Attn: Transient Occupancy Tax Section
2222 M Street
Merced, CA 95340

You must submit your application within 30 days of commencing business. After your application has been processed, you will receive your Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate, which must be posted in a conspicuous place on the premises for which it is issued.

Change My Address, Business Name, Name of Owners, etc., On Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate

Fill out a new application, and mail to the address noted above. Please indicate what is being changed and when the change is effective.

Close Transient Occupancy Tax Certificate Account

Send your Transient Occupancy Registration Certificate back to this office with a letter explaining why you no longer require the Certificate. In order to fully close your account, it is necessary that your certificate be returned to this office within 30 days of the close of business, and all tax returns filed with payment through the close of business date.