City of Firebaugh, CA
Fresno County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. #212, S1]
This chapter shall be known as the Transient Room Tax Ordinance of the City of Firebaugh.
[Ord. # 212, S2]
As used in this chapter:
a. 
HOTEL – shall mean 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 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.
b. 
LEGISLATIVE BODY – shall mean the city council of the City of Firebaugh.
c. 
OCCUPANCY – shall mean the use or possession, or the right to the use or possession of any room or rooms or portions thereof, in any hotel for dwelling, lodging, or sleeping purposes.
d. 
OPERATOR – shall mean the person who is proprietor of the hotel, whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, sublessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee, or any other capacity. Where the operator performs his functions through a managing agent of any type or character other than an employee, the managing agent shall also be deemed an operator for the purposes of this ordinance 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 shall, however, be considered to be compliance by both.
e. 
PERSON – shall mean 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.
f. 
RENT – shall mean 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.
g. 
TAX ADMINISTRATOR – shall mean the city clerk.
h. 
TRANSIENT – shall mean any person who exercises occupancy or is entitled to occupancy in a hotel by reason of a lease, concession, permit, right of access, license or other agreement for a period of 30 consecutive calendar days or less, counting portions of calendar days as full days. Any such person so occupying space in a hotel shall be deemed to be a transient until the period of 30 days has expired unless there is an agreement in writing between the operator and the occupant providing for a longer period of occupancy. In determining whether a person is a transient, uninterrupted periods of time extending both prior and subsequent to the effective date of this chapter may be considered.
i. 
TRANSIENT OCCUPANCY TAX REVIEW COMMITTEE – shall mean a committee as designated by the city council.
[Ord. #212, S3]
For the privilege of occupancy in any hotel, each transient is subject to and shall pay a tax in the amount of 4% of the rent charged by the operator. This tax constitutes a debt owed by the transient to the city which is extinguished only by payment to the operator or to the city. The transient shall pay the tax to the operator of the hotel at the time the rent is paid. If the rent is paid in installments, a proportionate share of the tax shall be paid with each installment. Any unpaid tax shall be due upon the transient'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 tax administrator may require that such tax shall be paid directly to him.
[Ord. #212, S4]
Every operator maintaining a place of business and renting rooms in this city, the occupancy of which is not exempted under the terms of this chapter, shall collect the tax from the occupant. The tax required to be collected by the operator constitutes a debt owing by the operator to the city. In all cases of transactions upon credit or deferred payment, the payment of tax to the operator may be deferred in accordance therewith, and the operator shall be liable therefor at the time and to the extent that such credits are paid or deferred payments are made in accordance with the rate of tax owing on the amount thereof.
The tax administrator shall enforce the provisions of this section and shall have the power to adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent herewith as may be necessary or desirable to aid in the enforcement hereof. He shall provide schedules for payment of the tax and such schedules shall eliminate fractions of $0.01.
[Ord. #212, S5]
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 transient. The amount of tax shall be separately stated from the amount of the rent charged, and each transient 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.
[Ord. #212, S6]
No tax imposed under this chapter shall be imposed upon:
a. 
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;
b. 
Any officer or employee of the government of the United States of America, State of California, or any subdivision thereof when on official business;
c. 
Any officer or employee of a foreign government who is exempt by reason of express provision of Federal Law or international treaty;
d. 
Any occupant for more than 30 successive calendar days;
e. 
Any occupant whose rent is of a value less than $2 a day;
f. 
Any person who rents a private home, vacation cabin or like facility from an owner who is not regularly engaged in the business of renting such facilities but does so only occasionally and incidentally to his own use thereof;
g. 
Any occupant whose rent is paid for a hospital room or to a medical clinic, convalescent home or home for aged people;
No exemption shall be granted under paragraphs a, b, or c of this section 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.
[Ord. #212, S7]
Every person engaging or about to engage in business as an operator of a hotel in this city shall register with the finance director on a form provided by him. Persons engaged in such business shall register not later than July 15, 1964, or within 15 days after commencing business whichever is later, but such privilege of registration after the date of imposition of such tax shall not relieve any person from the obligation of payment or collection of tax on and after the date of imposition thereof, regardless of registration. Such registration shall set forth the name under which such person transacts or intends to transact business, the location of his place or places of business and such other information to facilitate the collection of the tax as the finance director may require. The registration shall be signed by the owner if a natural person; in case of an association or partnership, by a member or partner; in the case of a corporation, by an executive officer or some person specifically authorized by the corporation to sign the registration. The tax administrator shall within 10 days after such registration issue without charge a certificate of authority to each registrant to collect the tax from the occupant, together with a duplicate thereof for each additional place of business of such registrant. Such certificates shall be non-assignable and non-transferable and shall be surrendered immediately to the finance director upon the cessation of business at the location named or upon its sale or transfer. Each certificate and duplicate shall state the place of business to which it is applicable and shall be prominently displayed therein so as to be seen and come to the notice readily of all occupants and persons seeking occupancy.
This certificate shall, among other things, state the following:
1. 
The name of the operator;
2. 
The address of the hotel;
3. 
The date upon which the certificate was issued;
4. 
This transient occupancy registration certificate signifies that the person named on the face hereof has fulfilled the requirements of the transient room tax chapter of the city by registration with the tax administrator for the purpose of collecting from transients the room tax imposed by the city and remitting the 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, or 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 the city. This certificate does not constitute a permit.
If the finance director deems it necessary in order to facilitate initial registration hereunder of persons engaged in business on or prior to the date of imposition of tax as set forth in this chapter, he may prescribe provisions thererof other than those provided in this section. Such provisions shall be made to effect the purposes hereof. For such purposes, such provisions shall be in lieu of or in addition to those herein provided. Such registration and certificate thereof shall have the same effect as that provided herein.
[Ord. #212, S8]
Any operator who fails to remit any tax imposed by this chapter within the time required shall pay a penalty of 10% of the amount of the tax in addition to the amount of the tax.
[Ord. #212, S8]
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 10% of the amount of the tax in addition to the amount of the tax and the 10% penalty first imposed.
[Ord. #212, S8]
If the finance director determines that the nonpayment of any remittance due under this ordinance is due to fraud or intent to evade the provisions thereof, a penalty of 25% of the amount of the tax shall be added thereto in addition to the penalties stated in Subsections 10-8.1 and 10-8.2 of this section.
[Ord. #212, S8]
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 1/2 of 1% 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.
[Ord. #212, S8]
Every penalty imposed and such interest as accrues under the provisions of this section shall be merged with and become a part of the tax herein required to be paid.
[Ord. #212, S9]
a. 
The tax imposed by this chapter shall become due and payable from the occupant at the time of occupancy. All amounts of such taxes collectible or collected by any operator are due and payable to the finance director quarterly on the first day of the months of April, July, October, and January next succeeding each respective quarterly period and are delinquent after the last day of such months.
b. 
On or before the last day of the month following each quarterly period of three months, a return for the preceding quarterly period shall be filed with the finance director. The return shall be filed in such form as the finance director may prescribe, by every operator and by every person liable to payment of tax hereunder during such quarterly period who has not paid such tax, and who has not made return in regard to the related occupancy which is the subject of tax.
c. 
Returns shall show the amount of tax collected or otherwise due for the related period and such other information as is required by the finance director. The finance director may require returns to show the total rentals upon which tax was collected or otherwise due, the gross receipts of a registered returnee for such period and the explanation in detail of any discrepancy between such amounts.
d. 
The person required to file the return shall deliver the return, together with the remittance of the amount of the tax due, to the finance director at his office.
e. 
For good cause the finance director may extend for not to exceed one month the time for making any return or payment of tax. No further extension shall be granted, except by the transient occupancy review committee. Any person to whom an extension is granted who makes return and pays the tax within the period of such extension shall pay, in addition to the tax, interest on the amount thereof at the rate of 1/2 of 1% per month, or fraction thereof, on the unpaid balance for the period of such extension to the time of return and payment, which interest shall become a part of the tax.
f. 
The finance director, if he deems it necessary in order to insure payment or facilitate collection by the city of the amount of taxes in any individual case, may require returns and payment of the amount of taxes for other than quarterly periods.
[Ord. #212, S10]
a. 
If the finance director is not satisfied with the return or returns of the tax or the amount of the tax required to be paid to the city by any person, he may compute and determine the amount required to be paid upon the basis of the facts contained in the return or returns or upon the basis of any information within his possession or that may come into his possession. One or more deficiency determinations may be made of the amount due for one or more than one period.
b. 
In making a determination the finance director may offset overpayments, if any, which may have been previously made for a period or periods together with interest on the overpayments, against any underpayment for a subsequent period or periods, or against penalties, and interest, on the underpayments. The interest on underpayments and overpayments shall be computed in the manner set forth in section 10-13.
c. 
The finance director shall give to the operator or occupant written notice of his determination. The notice may be served personally or by mail; if by mail, the notice shall be enclosed in a sealed envelope postage prepaid and addressed to the operator at his address as it appears in the records of the administrator. In case of service by mail of any notice required by this ordinance the service is complete at the time of deposit in the United States Post Office.
d. 
Except in the case of fraud, intent to evade this ordinance or authorized rules and regulations, or failure to make a timely return, every deficiency determination shall be made and notice thereof mailed within three years after the last day of the month following the close of the quarterly period for which the amount is proposed to be determined or within three years after the return is filed, whichever period expires the later.
e. 
If any operator shall fail or refuse to collect said tax or to make, with the time provided in this chapter any report and remittance of the tax or any portion thereof required by this chapter or makes a fraudulent return or otherwise willfully attempts to evade this chapter, the finance director 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 finance director 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 finance director shall give a notice in the manner aforesaid of the amount so assessed. Such determination and notice shall be made and mailed within three years after discovery by the finance director of any fraud, intent to evade or failure to file return. Any determination shall become final within 30 days after giving notice thereof as herein provided.
f. 
If the finance director believes that the collection of any tax or any amount of tax required to be collected and paid to the city will be jeopardized by delay, or if any determination will be jeopardized by delay, he shall thereupon make a determination of the tax or amount of tax required to be collected, noting that fact upon the determination. The amount determined is immediately due and payable. If the amount specified in the determination is not paid within 10 days after service of notice thereof upon the person against whom the determination is made, the amount becomes final at the expiration of the 10 days, unless a petition for redetermination is filed within the 10 days and the delinquency penalty and the interest provided in section 10-8 shall attach to the amount of the tax or the amount of the tax required to be collected.
[Ord. #212, S11]
a. 
Any person against whom a determination is made under section 10-10 or any person directly interested may petition for a redetermination within 15 days after service upon the person of notice thereof. If a petition for redetermination is not filed within the 30 day period, the determination becomes final at the expiration of the period. Provided, however, a petition for redetermination under section 10-10 f shall be filed within 10 days after notice.
b. 
If a petition for redetermination is filed within the allowable period, the finance director shall reconsider the determination and, if the person he has so requested in his petition, shall grant the person an oral hearing and shall given him 10 days' notice of the time and place of the hearing. The finance director may continue the hearing from time to time as may be necessary.
c. 
The finance director may decrease or increase the amount of the determination before it becomes final but the amount may be increased only if a claim for the increase is asserted by the finance director at or before the hearing.
d. 
The order or decision of the finance director upon a petition for redetermination becomes final 15 days after service upon the petitioner of notice thereof, unless appeal of such order or decision is filed with the transient occupancy tax review committee within 15 days after service of such notice.
e. 
No petition for redetermination or appeal therefrom shall be effective for any purpose unless at or before the filing thereof the amount found due in the original determination is paid or a bond or other security satisfactory to the tax administrator is filed with him guaranteeing payment of any amount finally determined to be due.
[Ord. #212, S12]
a. 
The finance director, whenever he deems it necessary to insure compliance with this chapter, may require any person subject thereto to deposit with him such security in the form of cash, bond, or other security as the finance director may determine. The amount of the security shall be fixed by the tax administrator but shall not be greater than twice the person's estimated average liability for the period for which he files returns, determined in such manner as the tax administrator deems proper, or $10,000, whichever amount is the lesser. The amount of the security may be increased or decreased by the finance director subject to the limitations herein provided.
b. 
If any person is delinquent in the payment of the amount required to be paid by him or in the event a determination has been made against him which remains unpaid, the finance director may, not later than three years after the payment became delinquent, give notice thereof by registered mail to all persons in the county having in their possession or under their control any credits or other personal property belonging to the delinquent, or owing any debts to the delinquent. After receiving the notice the persons so notified shall neither transfer nor make any other disposition of the credits, other personal property, or debts in their possession or under their control at the time they receive the notice until the tax administrator consents to a transfer or disposition or until 20 days elapse after the receipt of the notice. All persons so notified shall within five days after the receipt of the notice advise the finance director of all such credits, other personal property, or debts in their possession, under their control, or owing by them.
c. 
At any time within three years after any tax or any amount of tax required to be collected becomes due and payable or at any time within three years after any determination becomes final, the finance director may bring an action in the courts of this State, or any other state, or of the United States in the name of the city to collect the amount delinquent together with penalties and interest.
d. 
If any operator liable for any amount under this chapter sells out his business or quits the business, his successors or assigns shall withhold sufficient of the purchase price to cover such amount until the former owner produces a receipt from the finance director showing that he has been paid or a certificate stating that no amount is due. If the purchaser of a business fails to withhold the tax from the purchase price as required, he becomes personally liable for the payment of the amount required to be withheld by him to the extent of the purchase price, valued in money. Within 30 days after receiving a written request from the purchaser for a certificate, the finance director shall either issue the certificate or mail notice to the purchaser at his address as it appears on the records of the finance director of the amount that must be paid as a condition of issuing the certificate. Failure of the finance director to mail the notice will release the purchaser from any further obligation to withhold the purchase price as above provided. The time within which the obligation of a successor may be enforced shall start to run at the time the operator sells out his business or at the time that the determination against the operator becomes final, whichever event occurs the later.
[Ord. #212, S13]
Whenever the amount of any tax, penalty, or interest has been paid more than once or has been erroneously or illegally collected or received by the finance director under this chapter, it may be refunded provided a verified claim in writing therefor, stating the specific ground upon which the claim is founded, is filed with the finance director within three years from the date of payment. The claim shall be made on forms provided by the finance director. If the claim is approved by the finance director the excess amount collected or paid may be refunded or may be credited on any amounts then due and payable from the person from whom it was collected or by whom paid and the balance may be refunded to such persons, his administrators or executors.
[Ord. #212, S14]
The finance director shall deposit all moneys collected pursuant to this chapter to the credit of the general fund.
[Ord. #212, S14]
Every operator renting guest rooms in this city shall keep such records, receipts, invoices, and other pertinent papers in such form as the finance director may require. All records shall be retained by the operator for a period of three years and six months after they come into being.
[Ord. #212, S14]
The finance director or any person authorized in writing by him may examine the books, papers, records and equipment of any person liable for the tax and may investigate the character of the business of the person in order to verify the accuracy of any return made, or if no return is made by the person, to ascertain and determine the amount required to be paid.
[Ord. #212, S14]
In administration of the tax the finance director may require the filing of reports by any person or class of persons having in his or their possession or custody information relating to rentals of guest rooms which are subject to the tax. The reports shall be filed when the finance director requires and shall set forth the rental charged for each occupancy, the date or dates of occupancy, and such other information as the finance director may require.
[Ord. #212, S14]
It shall be unlawful for the finance director or any person having an administrative duty under the provisions of this chapter to make known in any manner whatever the business affairs, operations, or information obtained by an investigation of records and equipment of any person required to obtain a transient occupancy registration certificate, or pay a transient occupancy tax, or any other person visited or examined in the discharge of official duty, or the amount or source of income, profits, losses, expenditures, or any particular thereof, set forth in any statement or application, or to permit any statement or application, or copy of either, or any book containing any abstract or particulars thereof to be seen or examined by any person. Provided that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent:
a. 
The disclosure to, or the examination of records and equipment by another city official, employee, or agent for collection of taxes for the sole purpose of administering or enforcing any provisions of this chapter; or collecting taxes imposed hereunder,
b. 
The disclosure of information to, or the examination of records by, federal, or state officials, or the tax officials of another city, or county, or city and county, if a reciprocal arrangement exists; or to a grand jury or court of law, upon subpoena;
c. 
The disclosure of information and results of examination of records of particular taxpayers, or relating to particular taxpayers, to a court of law in a proceeding brought to determine the existence or amount of any business tax liability of the particular taxpayers to the city.
d. 
The disclosure after the filing of a written request to that effect, to the taxpayer himself, or to his successors, receivers, trustees, executors, administrators, assignees, and guarantors, if directly interested, of information as to the items included in the measure of any paid tax, any unpaid tax or amounts of tax required to be collected, interest, and penalties; further provided, however, that the city attorney approves each such disclosure and that the finance director may refuse to make any disclosure referred to in this paragraph when in his opinion the public interest would suffer thereby;
e. 
The disclosure of the names and addresses of persons to whom transient occupancy registration certificates have been issued, the names and addresses of officers of corporations and members of partnerships to whom such certificates have been issued, and the general type or nature of their business;
f. 
The disclosure to the legislative body by way of public meeting or otherwise of such information as may be necessary in order to permit it to be fully advised as to the facts when a taxpayer files a claim for refund of business taxes, or submits an offer of compromise with regard to a claim asserted against him by the city for business taxes, or when acting upon any other matter;
g. 
The disclosure of general statistics regarding taxes collected or business done in the city.
[Ord. #212, S14]
Neither the finance director nor any person having an administrative duty under this chapter shall make known in any manner whatever the business affairs, operations, or information obtained by an investigation of records and equipment of any operator or any person visited or examined in the discharge of official duty or the amount or source of income, profits, losses, expenditures, or any particular thereof, set forth or disclosed in any return, or to permit any return or copy thereof or any book containing any abstract or particulars thereof to be seen or examined by any person. Successors, receivers, trustees, executors, administrators, assignees, and guarantors, if directly interested, and upon submitting written proof of their interest, may be given information as to the items included in the measure and amount of any unpaid tax or amounts of tax required to be collected, interest and penalties.
[Ord. #212, S15]
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the tax administrator may appeal to the transient occupancy tax review committee by filing a notice of appeal with the finance director within 15 days of the serving or mailing of the notice of the decision. The finance director shall fix a time and place for hearing such appeal as prescribed by the transient occupancy tax review committee in its rules and regulations and shall give the appellant 10 days' written notice of the time and place of hearing.
[Ord. #212, S16]
A transient occupancy tax review committee is hereby created. The committee shall select from its members a chairman who shall serve at its pleasure. Any member of the committee may deputize in writing filed with the committee any member of his office or in the case of the mayor, a member of the council, to serve in his place on such committee for such period or in such hearing as he may desire. A majority of the members of the committee shall constitute a quorum. The committee shall keep a record of its transactions. The committee shall be deemed to be in the office of the city clerk, shall meet and keep its files in his office and all filing with the committee relating to appeals, or otherwise, shall be made at such office. Neither the members of the committee, nor the persons deputized to serve in their places, at any time shall receive any compensation as such members or acting members for their services on the committee.
The committee shall have power and it shall be its duty:
a. 
To hear and determine appeals of orders or decisions of the finance director made upon petitions for redetermination of tax. The committee may affirm, modify, or reverse such orders or decisions or dismiss the appeals therefrom, as may be just, and shall prescribe such forms, rules, and regulations relating to appeals as it may deem necessary. In the review of the finance director decision or order, the committee may take such evidence and make such investigation as it may deem necessary. It shall give notice of its determinations in the manner prescribed for service of notice of a finance director's decision and shall file a copy of each such determination with the finance director with certification thereon of the date of service thereof. Such determination shall become final 10 days thereafter and shall thereupon become due and payable, subject to interest and penalties, and enforceable by the finance director in like manner as an order or decision of the finance director.
b. 
To approve, modify, or disapprove all forms, rules, and regulations prescribed by the finance director in the administration and enforcement of this chapter and such forms, rules, and regulations shall be subject to, and become effective only on, such approval.
c. 
To hear and determine in such manner as shall be just, any protest which may be made by any person who may be interested, to any form, rule, or regulation approved or prescribed by the committee.
d. 
To grant for good cause, applications for extensions of time in excess of one month, for making any return or payment of tax, and to prescribe rules therefor.
e. 
To make such investigations as it deems advisable regarding the imposition and administration of the transient occupancy tax and report its findings to the legislative body. Act in an advisory capacity to the legislative body on matters pertaining to the transient occupancy tax and enforcement problems and recommend to the legislative body the adoption, amendment, or repeal of legislation pertaining thereto.
[Ord. #212, S18 and 19]
It is unlawful for any operator or other person so required to, to fail or refuse to register as required herein, or to furnish any return required to be made, or fail or refuse to furnish a supplemental return or other data required by the finance director or to render a false or fraudulent return. No person required to make, render, sign, or verify any report shall make any false or fraudulent report, with intent to defeat or evade the determination of an amount due required by this chapter to be made. Any person willfully violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punishable therefor by a fine as stated in Chapter 1, section 1-5.
This section shall be in force and effect on July 1, 1964.