(Added by O-1500; Amended by O-1831; O-3275)

ARTICLE 1 - GENERAL Revised 1/24

222.1.1 TITLE.

This Chapter shall be known as the Uniform Occupancy Tax Law of the City of Torrance.

222.1.2 DEFINITIONS. Revised 1/24

(Amended by O-3925)

Except where the context otherwise requires, the definitions given in this Section govern the construction of this Chapter.

a)    Person means 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.

b)    Hotel means any structure, or any portion of any structure, which is occupied or intended or designed for occupancy, 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, mobilehome or house trailer at a fixed location, or other similar structure or portion thereof.

c)    Occupancy means the use or possession, or the right to the use or possession of any room or rooms or portion thereof, in any hotel for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes.

d)    Lodger means any person who exercises occupancy or is entitled to occupancy by reason of concession, permit, right of access, license or other agreement in a hotel as defined above. Except as hereinbelow provided such entitlement to occupancy does not include a tenancy contract. If the hotel is located in a zoning district which permits transient lodging accommodation and prohibits other residential uses, then it shall be conclusively presumed that a lodging relationship exists for purposes of this Chapter.

e)    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.

f)    Operator means: the person who is proprietor of the hotel, motel, or short-term rental property, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, sublessee, mortgagee, licensee, managing agent of the owner, or accommodations intermediary. Where the operator performs his functions through a managing agent or accommodations intermediary, of any type or character other than an employee, the agent or intermediary 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 or accommodations intermediary shall, however, be considered to be compliance by both.

g)    Accommodations intermediary includes, without limitation, any person, corporation, entity, travel or booking agent, room seller/reseller, or trust/partnership that directly or indirectly (i) facilitates the rental of accommodation(s) and (ii) charges, collects, or receives rent or a facilitation fee in connection with such rental.

h)    Tax Administrator means the City Manager or his designated nominee.


222.2.1 TAX IMPOSED.

(Amended by O-1831; O-2494; O-2495; O-3062; O-3064; O-3169; O-3288; O-3315; O-3389)

For the privilege of occupancy in any hotel, each lodger is subject to and shall pay a tax in the amount of eleven (11) percent of the rent charged by the operator, commencing March 1, 1994. Said tax constitutes a debt owed by the lodger to the City, which is extinguished only by payment to the operator or to the City. The lodger shall pay the tax to the operator of the hotel at the time 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 lodger’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 Director of Finance may require that such tax shall be paid directly to the Director of Finance.


(Amended by O-3076; O-3306; O-3308)

a)    No tax shall be imposed upon 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. No exemption shall be granted except upon a claim therefor made at the time rent is collected and under penalty of perjury upon a form prescribed by the Tax Administrator.

b)    Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 222.2.1 above, no tax shall be imposed upon any person who:

1)    Is the head of the household; and

2)    Stayed in the hotel for longer than sixty (60) days; and

3)    Has a combined gross income for the most recently completed calendar year of all members of the household residing in the same room or rooms that does not exceed twelve thousand dollars ($12,000).

A request for such exemption shall be filed with the Tax Administrator.


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 lodger. The amount of tax shall be separately stated from the amount of the rent charged, and each lodger 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.


Within thirty (30) days after the effective date of this Chapter, or within thirty (30) days after commencing business, whichever is later, each operator of any hotel renting occupancy to transients shall register said hotel with the Tax Administrator and obtain from him an 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:

a)    The name of the operator;

b)    The address of the hotel;

c)    The date upon which the certificate was issued;

d)    This Occupancy Registration Certificate signifies that the person named on the face hereof has fulfilled the requirements of the Uniform Occupancy Tax Law by registering with the Tax Administrator for the purpose of collecting from lodgers the Occupancy Tax and remitting said tax to the Tax Administrator. 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 this City. This certificate does not constitute a permit.


(Amended by O-3342; O-3389)

a)    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 that may be established by the Tax Administrator, make a return to the Tax Administrator, on forms provided by him, of the total rents charged and received and the amount of occupancy tax collected. At the time the return is filed, the full amount of the tax collected shall be remitted to the Tax Administrator. The Tax Administrator 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 Administrator.

b)    During the period beginning January 1, 1994 and ending December 31, 1996, each operator may declare up to ten (10) percent of gross revenue earned from the rental of rooms as subject to the exemption from paying tax by reason of the rental of such rooms thereof to persons for over thirty (30) days; effective January 1, 1997, tax shall be paid on all revenues derived from the rental of rooms, except as provided in Section 222.2.2


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 (10) 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 (30) days following the date on which the remittance first became delinquent shall pay a second delinquency penalty of ten (10) percent of the amount of the tax in addition to the amount of the tax and the ten (10) percent penalty first imposed.

c)    Fraud. If the Tax Administrator determines that the non-payment of any remittance due under this Chapter is due to fraud, a penalty of twenty-five (25) percent of the amount of the tax shall be added thereto in addition to the penalties stated in subsections 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 (1/2) of one (1) 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.


If any operator shall fail or refuse to collect said tax and to make, within the time provided in this Chapter, any report and remittance of said tax or any portion thereof required by this Chapter, the Tax

Administrator 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 Administrator shall procure 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 Administrator 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 (10) days after the serving or mailing of such notice make application in writing to the Tax Administrator 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 Administrator shall become final and conclusive and immediately due and payable. If such application is made, the Tax Administrator shall give not less than five (5) 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 Administrator 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 (15) days unless an appeal is taken as provided in Sec. 222.2.8.


(Amended by O-2822)

The decision of the Tax Administrator may be appealed to the City Council pursuant to the provisions of Article 5, Chapter 1, Division 1 of this Code, commencing with Section 11.5.1.

222.2.9 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 (3) 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 Administrator shall have the right to inspect at all reasonable times.

222.2.10 REFUNDS.

a)    Whenever the amount of any tax, interest and penalty has been overpaid or paid more than once or has been erroneously or illegally collected or received by the City under this Chapter, it may be refunded as provided in subsections b) and c) of this Section provided a claim in writing therefor, stating under penalty of perjury the specific grounds upon which the claim is founded, is filed with the Tax Administrator within three (3) years of the date of payment. The claim shall be on forms furnished by the Tax Administrator.

b)    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 Administrator that the person from whom the tax has been collected was not a lodger; 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 lodger or credited to rent subsequently payable by the lodger to the operator.

c)    A lodger 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 subsection a) of this Section, but only when the tax was paid by the lodger directly to the Tax Administrator, or when the lodger having paid the tax to the operator, establishes to the satisfaction of the Tax Administrator that the lodger has been unable to obtain a refund from the operator who collected the tax.

d)    No refund shall be paid under the provisions of this Section unless the claimant establishes his right thereto by written records showing entitlement thereto.


Any tax required to be paid by any lodger under the provisions of this Chapter shall be deemed a debt owed by the lodger 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 shall be liable to an action brought in the name of the City of Torrance for recovery of such amount.


Any person violating any of the provisions of this Chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punishable therefor by a fine as provided for in Section 36900 of the California Government Code.

Any operator or other person who fails or refuses to register as required herein, or to furnish any return required to be made, or who fails or refuses to furnish a supplemental return to be made, or who fails or refuses to furnish a supplemental return or other data required by the Tax Administrator, or who renders a false or fraudulent return or claim, is guilty of an infraction, and is punishable as aforesaid. Any person required to make, render, sign or verify any report or claim who makes any false or fraudulent report or claim with intent to defeat or evade the determination of any amount due required by this Chapter to be made, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is punishable as aforesaid.


(Added by O-3925)

The Tax Administrator may promulgate rules and regulations consistent with the provisions of this chapter as may be necessary or desirable to aid in the enforcement and administration of this chapter. However, any such rule or regulation which would increase the tax levied pursuant to this chapter within the meaning of Government Code section 53750, subdivision (h) is subject to voter approval as required by California Constitution Article XIIIC (Proposition 218). Said rules and regulations shall be filed in the city’s Revenue Division office and maintained in an orderly and readily accessible manner. Such rules shall take effect after the Tax Administrator gives public notice of them in the manner required for ordinances of the City or at such later time as the Tax Administrator may specify. The burden to secure and comply with the rules and regulations shall be upon the operator.