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Frequently Asked Questions about Tourist Tax

What is a taxable rental?

According to Florida Administrative Code (12A-1.061), unless otherwise exempt, "every person is exercising a taxable privilege when engaging in the business of renting, leasing, letting, or granting licenses to others to use transient accommodations, unless the rental charges or room rates are specifically exempt".

Anyone who has entered into a bona fide written lease for greater than 6 months is exempt from sales tax and tourist development tax on the lease payments. If there is no written agreement, the owner is required to collect and remit the state sales tax and tourist tax for the first six months. The seventh month and every month thereafter will be exempt provided the same renter continues to reside at the same location.

What is a transient accommodation?

"Transient accommodation" means each living quarter or sleeping or housekeeping accommodation in any:

What Happens if the Renter Doesn't Pay the Tax?

The property owner is responsible to ensure that all proper taxes are collected and remitted to the proper agency, even if the owner has an agreement with a management company. If taxes are due and not remitted, the property owner will become personally liable to pay the tax. A lien in the amount of all unremitted tourist taxes, and applicable penalties and interest will be placed on the tangible personal property of the property owner.

What is a bona fide written lease?

According to Florida law, any person who enters into a bona fide written lease, for continuous residence of a transient accommodation for longer than six months, is exempt from Florida sales tax and local tourist development tax. A “bona fide written lease” is a written document that clearly demonstrates it is intended for the renter to have exclusive use of the rental property. There are several elements, which will be considered to validate the lease document and demonstrate the parties’ intent. These elements include:

  1. The length of the lease, including the beginning and ending date;
  2. A statement giving the lessor the complete and exclusive use of the property for the entire duration of the lease;
  3. Execution in good faith, without deceit or fraud;
  4. A sufficient description of the leased property;
  5. A statement that the lease contains the complete and sole agreement;
  6. A provision that the lessee will pay an agreed amount of rent;
  7. A statement containing the due date, frequency and address for payment of the rent;
  8. A statement specifying what conditions will result in early termination of the lease, the rights and obligations of the parties at termination and any penalties that will result from early termination;
  9. Signatures of the named parties, lessee and lessor.

These are the things that may be reviewed to determine whether a lease is bona fide and the rental transaction, therefore, exempt from tax.

What about records maintained outside Seminole County?

According to Florida Law, all records must be made available for review by the Tax Collector and available for audit by the Clerk of Circuit Court.

For an informal review by the Tax Collector, a reasonable period of time will be given to allow the records to be returned to Seminole County.

For a formal audit, the Clerk of Court follows Florida Law for providing the required statutory notice of audit.

How long do I have to keep the records?

Since you may be audited for 5 years after the rental has occurred, you must keep all records for a minimum of 5 years.

Are my tax records confidential?

According to Florida Law, all tourist records are confidential - including the registration form, all tax returns that have been filed, audit documentation and any tourist tax record that may identify the rental property or its owner.

The Tax Collector is required to share all tax information with the Clerk of Circuit Court (who is responsible for local auditing) and the Department of Revenue (who is responsible for state auditing).