Tourist Tax

Click here for the Tourist Development Tax Application

Click Here for the Tourist Tax Payment Coupon

Click here to Create your Tourist Express Account

Click here for instructions on creating your Tourist Express Account

Additional Tourist Tax Forms

Tax Collector Collections to Date

Effective 1 October 2013, The Okaloosa County Tax collector is responsible for the collection of the Tourist Development Tax. The Tax Collector has been assigned this duty by the Board of County Commissioners.  See Ordinance.

The Tourist Development Tax is collected in the southern portions of Okaloosa County. All Short-term rentals in the city of Destin are subject to the Tourist Development Tax. Short-term rentals on Okaloosa Island, portions of Ocean City, portions of Fort Walton Beach, portions of Mary Esther and Cinco Bayou are also subject to the Tourist Development Tax. (Click the map below for the Tourist Tax District)

Subject to Tourist Development Tax

Facilities in the Okaloosa Taxing district that are rented for six months or less are subject to the 5% tourist development tax. These facilities include living quarters and accommodations in a hotel, apartment hotel, motel, resort motel, apartment motel, rooming house, tourist or trailer camp, mobile home park, condominium, cooperatively-owned apartment, multiple-unit structure, single-family dwelling, beach house, cottage, or watercraft.  This is in addition to the state sales tax due to the Department of Revenue of 6%.

Who is responsible for collecting this tax?

All owners and/or operators of the facilities are subject to tourist taxes and must collect these taxes from their tenants or guests and remit them to the Okaloosa County Tax Collector. In order to submit tourist tax, a registration form must be completed and returned to the tax collector’s office.

An application (form DR1-C) must also be obtained from the Florida Department of Revenue for the collection of state sales tax. The Department of Revenue can be contacted at 1-800-352-3671.

 What do you receive for collecting the tax?

To compensate owners and operators for the collection of taxes from their tenants and guests, the owners/operators are entitled to keep an allowance of 2.5% of the first $1,200 of the tax due (up to a maximum of $30) provided the tax is filed online via Tourist Express. If the tax is filed in person, no allowance will apply

When are these taxes to be remitted?

These taxes are to be remitted to the county monthly. They are due by the 20th day of the month following the collection from your tenant or guest. They are considered delinquent if not postmarked by the 20th.

A quarterly filing requires tax returns to be filed four times a year; however the total tax paid for each quarter cannot exceed $300.00.  If you qualify, and would like to file your taxes quarterly, please send an email to TouristTax@OkaloosaTax.com with your Account Name.

Quarterly schedule:

1st Quarter – January, February, and March are to be reported on the March report

2nd Quarter – April, May, and June are to be reported on the June report

3rd Quarter – July, August, and September are to be reported on the September report

4th Quarter – October, November, and December are to be reported on the December report

Please note, even if you do not have any rentals during the month or quarter, a zero tax return must be submitted timely to avoid a late filing charge.

 Charges not subject to Tourist Development Tax

1. Charges for telecommunication services, including facsimile services.

2. Charges for television system program services, including charges for movies and videotapes, meals and beverages, whether served in the guest’s accommodation or served at a restaurant, and charged to the guest’s accommodation bill.

3. Food, drinks, and other items, such as combs, shampoo, playing cards, aspirin, or similar items purchased through a refrigerator or other device located within a guest’s accommodation.

4. Charges for the use of safes or safety deposit boxes located at an establishment’s registration desk. (In room safes are subject to the tourist development tax).

5. Charges, fines, or damage fees for lost or damaged items, such as room keys, towels, linens, dishes, silverware, or other similar items.

6. Charges for admissions, such as golf, tennis, cultural or events, billed separately to a guests accommodation bill. Charges for transportation services.

7. Laundry services charged to a guest or tenant’s accommodation bill.

8. Valet service charged to a guest or tenant’s accommodation bill.

9. Merchandise packaging or delivery service charged to a guest’s accommodation bill, such as flower delivery services or charges for packaging and delivering items for shipment under the direction of the guest (Rule 12A-1.061, F.A.C).

Exemptions

1. Federal Government Workers: If you are an employee of the federal government and are traveling in an official capacity, you are entitled to take an exemption if you present either (1) a copy of your official federal government travel orders or (2) you provide a sworn written statement affirming that the United States government will pay the hotel bill directly or will be reimbursing you for the hotel charges. You may obtain the appropriate exemption form from the hotel. The hotel must retain a copy of the completed form as proof that you are exempt. See rules 12a-1.061(14), 12a-1.038(4), F.A.C.

2. Florida State Government Workers: If you are an employee of Florida state government, its departments and institutions, and its political subdivisions, and you are traveling in an official capacity, you are entitled to an exemption only of the hotel charges that are billed directly to and paid by your respective agency, but not if the traveler is reimbursed for the expense. See rules 12a-1.061(13), 12a-1.038(4), F.A.C.

3. Foreign Diplomats: If you are a foreign diplomat we can accept only the white plastic sales tax exemption card with the animal image representing your level of exemption. The exemption card is issued to you by the U.S. Department of State and exempts you from the Florida tax on occupancy. See rule 12a-1.0015(4), F.A.C. For questions regarding the level of exemption, please contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Foreign Missions at (305) 442-4943.

4. United States Armed Forces Personnel: If you are on active duty in the United States Armed Forces and are traveling pursuant to federal government travel orders, you may receive a tax exemption by completing a sworn statement to that effect and presenting a copy of the orders to the hotel. See rule 12a-1.061(12), F.A.C. You may obtain the appropriate form from the hotel. The hotel must retain the completed form as proof that you are exempt.

5. Religious, charitable, educational, veterans or scientific organizations, federal or state chartered credit unions,* Florida Retired Educators Association or local chapters thereof, or organizations that provide special educational and social benefits to minors: If you are an employee of a religious, charitable, educational, veterans or scientific organization, federal or state chartered credit union, Florida Retired Educators Association or local chapter thereof, or an organization that provides special educational and social benefits to minors, you may receive a tax exemption if (1) your organization holds a consumer’s certificate of exemption issued by the Florida Department of Revenue and (2) the hotel charges are paid directly by your organization. An exemption will not be granted if you personally pay with cash, check, or credit card for which you will be reimbursed. In order to obtain your exemption, you should produce either a copy of your consumer’s certificate of exemption or some other document that displays your exemption number. The hotel must retain a copy of the certificate and proof of payment. See rules 12a-1.061(14), 12a-1.038(3), F.A.C.

6.  Exemption for Continuous Residence: Any person who has continuously resided at the same location for a period longer than 6 months and has paid the tax for the first 6 months is exempt from the tax after this period as long as the person continues to reside at the same accommodation. Once the person moves the exemption no longer applies. On the county tax return you would only include the rents for the first six months, which are taxable and starting in the seventh month omit their rents from the county tax return entirely since in the seventh month they would no longer be considered a short-term rental.

7. Bona Fide Written Lease: Any person who rents over 6 months with a bona fide written lease is exempt from the tax and should not be included on the county tax return because only short-term rentals are required to be reported to the county. The state on the other hand requires a reporting of both long-term rentals and short-term rentals on their tax return.

Interest Rates

The Florida Department of Revenue provides a floating rate of interest for late tax returns. The interest rate is updated each year on January 1 and July 1. There is no limit on the amount of interest that may accumulate on unpaid taxes.

For returns or payments due on or before December 31, 1999, the interest rate is 12 percent per year, except for corporate income and emergency excise taxes.

Rates on underpayments, effective January 1, 2007

Interest Period Interest Rate
01/01/07 – 06/30/07 12 percent
07/01/07 – 12/31/07 12 percent
01/01/08 – 06/30/08 12 percent
07/01/08 – 12/31/08 11 percent
01/01/09 – 06/30/09 09 percent
07/01/09 – 12/31/09 08 percent
01/01/10 – 12/31/10 07 percent
01/01/11 – 06/30/11 07 percent
07/01/11 – 12/31/11 07 percent
01/01/12 – 06/30/12 07 percent
07/01/12 – 12/31/12 07 percent
01/01/13 – 06/30/13 07 percent
07/01/13 – 12/31/13 07 percent

 

Floating rates of interest for overpayments of tax, effective January 1, 2007

Interest Period Interest Rate
01/01/07 – 06/30/07 11 percent
07/01/07 – 12/31/07 11 percent
01/01/08 – 06/30/08 11 percent
07/01/08 – 12/31/08 11 percent
01/01/09 – 06/30/09 09 percent
07/01/09 – 12/31/09 08 percent
01/01/10 – 12/31/10 07 percent
01/01/11 – 06/30/11 07 percent
07/01/11 – 12/31/11 07 percent
01/01/12 – 06/30/12 07 percent
07/01/12 – 12/31/12 07 percent
01/01/13 – 06/30/13 07 percent
07/01/13 – 12/31/13 07 percent

Auditing Procedures

Purpose of an audit:  The purpose of an audit is to ensure that the tourist development tax is uniformly enforced, deter tax evasion, promote voluntary compliance, and educate the taxpayers in the correct method of reporting. While most tax returns are accepted as filed, returns are audited to verify accuracy and evaluate compliance. The audit may or may not result in additional tax due or may disclose that a refund is due.

How a taxpayer is chosen for an audit: The majority of our audits are random. The rest are either referrals from our Field Service Department for habitually filing late returns, incomplete tax returns, etc., or referrals from the Florida Department of Revenue.

Procedures: All tax returns are subject to an audit. A Notice of Intent to Audit is sent to the taxpayer informing him or her of the impending audit and giving 60 days’ notice before scheduling the audit. The audit must begin within 120 days following the notice. In addition to the notice informing the taxpayer of the audit period, there is also an audit exhibit attached below, specifying the financial records that will be reviewed. The audit exhibit is not an all-inclusive list. There may be additional records requested once the audit begins.

Audit Exhibit

  • Florida Department of Revenue Sales Tax Returns (DR-15)
  • General Ledgers
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Financial Statements
  • Business Tax Receipt
  • Loan Applications
  • Federal Income Tax Returns
  • Franchise reports and agreements, if applicable
  • Exemption Certificates and the corresponding folios
  • Monthly Bank Statements, deposit slips
  • Leases, if applicable
  • Resale Certificates
  • Register Tapes, if applicable
  • Housekeeping Records
  • Guest Folio/Registration Cards/Guest Applications
  • Cash Receipt Records (Daily/Monthly Posting)*
  • Monthly Utility Statements
  • Daily Report (posted by hand or computer generated)
  • Daily Audit Packs (daily close out by Night Auditor)
  • Monthly Sales Tax Reports (Realtor/Agent)
  • Monthly Owner Statements (Realtor/Agent)
  • Rental Confirmations (Realtor/Agent)
  • 1099’s, 1042’s if applicable
  • Other – any and all documents needed to complete the audit

Cash receipts records may be known under such names as: cash receipts summary, daily report, activity report, G/L worksheet, daily logs, etc.

Any person who collects rental charges for short-term accommodations must maintain adequate records, including copies of all leases, rental agreements, duplicate copies of receipts issued for the payment of rental charges.

All records must be available in Okaloosa County during an audit. Records must be maintained for three years. Pursuant to F.S. Chapter 212, in the absence of records, an assessment may be issued from an estimate based upon the best information available, which shall be considered prima facie correct, and the burden to show the contrary shall rest upon the owner or the owner’s representative.

If there are insufficient records available or no records, an assessment may be issued based upon the best available information.

Tip – Hotline

If you know of or suspect a person or business is evading the tourist development tax, you can anonymously report a possible tax violation to our office. Please provide us with as much detailed information as possible.  To report Tourist or Business tax fraud: Call 855-489-8477 (4TX-TIPS) or Email TaxTips@OkaloosaTax.com

Okaloosa County Ordinance link

Click here for the Tourist Development Tax Application

Click Here for the Tourist Tax Payment Coupon

Click here to Create your Tourist Express Account

Click here for instructions on creating your Tourist Express Account