Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Supervisors respond to 2009-10 Grand Jury report


In a response to the most recent 2009-10 Grand Jury report, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors says it agrees with a majority of its findings, including that the vague wording in its Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) ordinance is open for interpretation, leaving opportunities for owners and agents of inns, rental properties and hotels to avoid collecting bed taxes and paying them to the county.

A letter approved by the Board Tuesday morning states that it will implement revisions to the TOT ordinance, clearing up any ambiguities, as soon they determine how litigation occurring in other counties over Internet travel companies might affect Tulare County.

But supervisors wrote in the letter that they would not require the Tax Collector’s Officer to physically inspect all properties that are subject to paying the special tax, as recommended by the Grand Jury.

“The recommendation will be implemented by the Tax Collector within [her] appropriate function. The Tax Collector will collect and audit as related to TOT,” the letter states. But “physical inspection of properties is not within the function of the Tax Collector.”

In January, the Grand Jury reported that the county’s current ordinance had resulted in a loss of $9,000 in tax revenues. It addressed three aspects of the TOT ordinance that it said were not clearly defined: which types of rental accommodations are subject to being taxed under the ordinance, what constitutes a day’s stay and a partial day rental.

The Board of Supervisors agreed that those aspects of the ordinance needs to be revised, but said it could not respond to a separate finding that stated other agencies within the county had given information to owners and agents which had been misleading.

“The Board is not able to respond to this finding as it is not possible to verify with other agencies or the information provided,” Board Chairman Steve Worthley wrote in the letter.

Contact Jenna Chandler at 784-5000, Ext. 1050, or

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