About Tourist Development Tax

  • The Inspector General’s Tourist Tax Office has the authority and responsibility to perform administration, collection, audits, compliance, and enforcement in support of the Lee County Tourist Development Tax per Lee County Ordinance 13-14.
  • The Inspector General’s Tourist Tax Office is not a Regulatory Agency; we do not have the authority or responsibility to enforce any local laws or ordinances other than 13-14.
  • To confirm if short term rentals are allowed in your local area or if regulations exist, inquire directly with your local municipality, city, town, village, home owners association, condo association, or others, for information relating to whether or not your short term rental property is in compliance with any existing rules, laws, or regulations governing short term rentals.
  • If someone is renting short term in an area where it is not permitted, we can only ensure that they collect and remit the tax. Whether or not they should be renting is outside of our authority and responsibility.
Owner Application

Owner Application

Complete the owner application if you:

  • Secure rentals
  • Locate tenants
  • Write leases
  • Grand access and license to use your property
  • Collect and remit the tax or engage a tax collecting agent to remit the tax on your behalf

If you engage a dealer to handle the short-term rental of your property, the dealer is required to register and must collect and remit the tourist development tax on your behalf.

Dealer Application

Dealer Application

Complete the dealer application if you lease or grant a license to use/occupy/enter upon any living quarters, sleeping or housekeeping accommodations in hotels, apartment houses, rooming houses, tourist or trailer camps, real property, etc. In accordance with F.S.212.02(10)(i), the term license refers to the use of real property, means the granting of a privilege to use or occupy a building or a parcel of real property for any purpose.

IMPORTANT! Under the provisions of F.S.212.15, tourist development tax becomes county funds at time of collection and must be remitted to the department. It may not be turned over to a third party.

IMPORTANT! Real Estate Professionals: All short-term rental activity must be handled through the real estate company and qualifying broker.

Requirements

Tourist development tax is a 5 percent tax on the gross rental amount. The dealer is responsible for collecting and remitting the tax from any person or party who rents, leases, or lets for consideration living quarters or accommodations for a period of six months or less. If the dealer fails to collect and remit the tax, after all provisions under the law have been pursued, then the owner is ultimately responsible for the payment of the tax. The following are examples of residential real property rentals that are subject to tourist development tax per Florida Admin Code 12A-1.061:

  • Apartment hotel
  • Apartment motel
  • Beach house and cottage
  • Condominium
  • Cooperatively owned apartment
  • Hotel
  • Mobile home
  • Motel
  • Multiple-unit structure
  • Resort motel
  • Rooming house
  • Single-family dwelling
  • Tourist or trailer camp
  • Trailer
  • Vacant land for temporary living quarters
Tourist Development Tax FAQs

What is the Authority and Responsibility of the Inspector General's Tourist Tax Office?

  • The Inspector General’s Tourist Tax Office has the authority and responsibility to perform administration, collection, audits, compliance, and enforcement in support of the Lee County Tourist Development Tax per Lee County Ordinance 13-14.
  • The Inspector General’s Tourist Tax Office is not a Regulatory Agency; we do not have the authority or responsibility to enforce any local laws or ordinances other than 13-14.
  • To confirm if short term rentals are allowed in your local area or if regulations exist, inquire directly with your local municipality, city, town, village, home owners association, condo association, or others, for information relating to whether or not your short term rental property is in compliance with any existing rules, laws, or regulations governing short term rentals.
  • If someone is renting short term in an area where it is not permitted, we can only ensure that they collect and remit the tax. Whether or not they should be renting is outside of our authority and responsibility.

How does Lee County benefit from the tourist development tax?

Every time a visitor pays for accommodations, funds are generated for our beaches, ballparks and attractions.

Find out more about how Lee County's tourist tax dollars are put to use

Must I, as a homeowner, charge tourist development tax on my own residence, or other units that I own?

Yes, you must charge the 5 percent tourist development tax, as well as 6.5 percent Florida sales tax. Please contact the Florida Department of Revenue at (239) 338-2400 for information on Sales Tax.

Advertising a short term rental on an online website platform?

If your short term-rental property is listed on an online website platform, such as HomeAway, VRBO, VacationRentals, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, FlipKey, misterb&b, or, any of their Subsidiaries, they will collect and remit the tourist development tax on your behalf. If you are using an online property management program such as Evolve, Hostaway, Guesty, Lodgify, etc., the property is listed on the online platforms, but the tourist development tax is directed to you. You are responsible to register, collect, and remit taxes for those rentals. To confirm tax related details of your short-term rental property, please contact the online website platform or property management program handling your property listing. If the short-term rental is advertised for rent on other online website platforms (ex: Craigslist) and/or you handle short-term rentals without using a dealer (property manager, real estate agent, real estate agency, rental agent, etc. ...), you are required to register and must collect and remit the tourist development tax on the gross rent received (rent plus any mandatory fees), or advise if your short-term rental is being handled by a tax collecting agent (bookkeeper, accountant, CPA, tax compliance specialist, etc....).

A dealer always handles my rental property. Do I need to apply for a tourist development tax account number?

No, the dealer is required to have their own TDT tax account number, and must submit your tax in a consolidated return, which includes the rental properties of all their clients. However, you should be aware that if the dealer fails to collect and remit the tax, after all provisions under the law have been pursued, then the owner is ultimately responsible for the payment of the tax.

If I utilize a dealer but also rent on my own, must I have my own tax account number?

Yes, you will need an account number, since you will be responsible for collecting, reporting, and remitting the tax during the months the property was rented without the use of a dealer.

As a prospective taxpayer, what should I do?

Complete the application and return it using the options listed on the form. Once received, you will be assigned an account number, provided with a username and password, and informed how to complete your return and pay online.

I only rent property at certain times of the year. Am I required to fill out an application and pay the tax?

Yes. The Lee County tourist development tax has made provisions for seasonal renters to simplify the payment of the tax. Seasonal renters submit tax returns only once a year. See application for filing options.

If I rent to a resident of Florida or to a Lee County resident, do I have to collect the tax, since the renters are not tourists?

Yes, this is a bed tax, and is applicable to all transient visitors, whether or not they are residents of Florida or Lee County.

My property is used by family and friends at times during the year. Am I required to collect the tax from them?

If you collect rent from them, or accept any form of compensation in lieu of rent, you are required to file a tax return. Collect and remit the tax based upon the rent paid, or upon the fair market value of the compensation received in lieu of rent.

What is the purpose of the tax?

Tourist development tax is used for: 53.6 percent - advertising and promotion (VCB operations and Lee County Sports Development operations); 26.4 percent - beach and shoreline improvements and maintenance; 20.0 percent - stadium debt service (includes debit payments for the Lee County Sports Complex and JetBlue Park, as well as major maintenance for both).

What is the role of the dealer?

If a dealer handles your property, the dealer is required to have their own tourist development tax account and submit the tax payments for all of their clients in a consolidated return. You should verify this with your dealer. In addition to the consolidated return, for audit purposes, dealers must keep records of all properties and rental amounts collected each month. Tourist development tax is a 5 percent tax on the gross rental amount. The dealer is responsible to collect and remit the tax from any person or other party who rents, leases or lets for consideration living quarters or accommodations for a period of six months or less. If the dealer fails to collect and remit the tax, after all provisions under the law have been pursued, then the owner is ultimately responsible for the payment of the tax.

What remedies are available if someone does not collect the tax, or collects the tax but does not report or remit it to Lee County?

A warrant can be issued and filed, creating a lien against real property and/or personal property in Lee County. Any person who rents living quarters for a period of six months or less shall be personally liable for the tax payment. The following offenses may also result in the individual being found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony, punishable as provided in F.S. 212.12, 775.082, 775.083:

  • fails to file six consecutive returns
  • diverts or converts tax monies to their own use or the benefit of others

Other actions:

  • Suspending of your privilege to rent properties in Lee County, Florida

Which renters, if any, are exempt from the tax?

Those who have signed a bona fide written lease in excess of six months and one day, or have paid the tax continuously month-to-month for the first six months without a lease are exempt. Exempt status with the State of Florida Department of Revenue Sales & Use Tax is also exempt from Lee County Tax.

Who enforces the collection of tourist development tax?

The Lee County Clerk of Court Inspector General Department enforces the tax.

What else is the Tourist Development Tax referred to as?

The tax is also referred to as:

  • Bed Tax
  • Transient Rental Tax
  • Resort Tax
What is Taxable?

The 5 percent tourist development tax applies to rental charges or room rates. This includes any charge or surcharge to a guest or tenant for the use of items or services that are required to be paid by the tenant as a condition of the use or possession of a short-term rental.

Such charges, even if paid to third parties, include but are not limited to:

  • Rental rate
  • Cleaning charges
  • In room safe charges
  • Pet Fees
  • Roll-a-way Beds
  • Administration fees
  • Registration fee
  • Resort fees
  • Electricity charges if not included in rent
  • Golf transfer/membership fees
  • Community Association application fees
  • Amenity fees
  • Membership dues
  • Maintenance fees
  • Peace of Mind (Damage) Insurance Policies
  • Cleaning fees or electricity charges (a reasonable cap) withheld from Security Deposit

For additional information please refer to the tourist development tax FAQs or call the Tourist Development Tax Unit of the Inspector General Department at 239-533-2190.

Exemptions

This educational resource guide is provided as a courtesy. It is important to understand that the rules governing the State of Florida tax exemption requirements are subject to change, and it is the Dealer’s responsibility to understand and keep up-to-date with all governing requirements.

It is the legislative intent to tax each transient rental transaction, unless specifically exempt

Each Dealer, in good faith, must verify the requesting party(s) ID.

For audit purposes, each Dealer has a duty to keep the applicable records to support the exemption

Important! Each exemption type has specific records to be retained in support of the exemption. If copies are not retained by the Dealer per the applicable exemption type, the exemption will be disallowed, and is subject to audit assessment.

The rules governing tax exemption on transient rental transactions may include one or more of the following: For comprehensive details, other exemption types, and rulemaking authority see full governing rules.

  • 12A-1.061 FAC (Rentals, Leases, and Licenses to Use Transient Accommodations) 5-9-13
  • 12A-1.038 FAC (Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption; Exemption Certificates) 1-17-18
  • 12A-1.0015 FAC (Sales for Export; Sales to Nonresident Dealers and Foreign Diplomats) 6-12-03
  • TIP No: 11A01-05 FDOR 7-15-11

The information below is a brief overview of the necessary requirements for each type.

Military Personnel on Active Duty

Rental charges or room rates paid by military personnel currently on active duty and present in the community under official orders are exempt. This includes rental charges or room rates for transient accommodations paid by military personnel while traveling to a destination designated by their official orders. The exemption does not include rental charges or room rates for transient accommodations paid by military personnel that are in the community, but are not under official orders to be present in the community.

To qualify for this exemption, military personnel must present either of the following documents to the owner or owner’s representative of the transient accommodation.

1. A copy of the official orders supporting the active duty status of the military personnel and making it necessary to occupy the transient accommodation; or

2. A copy of an overflow certificate issued to military personnel on active duty status by any unit of the U.S. Armed Services.

It is not required that an official military ID be presented and kept on record; however, the personnel must prove that they are military personnel and the Dealer, in good faith, must verify this. Therefore, the military personnel should present their ID.

Important: To authenticate that the Military personnel is currently on Active Duty and present in the community under official orders; the Dealer is required to retain a copy of the military personnel's official orders or a copy of an overflow certificate in support of the military personnel’s active duty exemption. See rule 12A-1.061 (13)(a)(b)(1.)(2.)FAC.

Employees of the Federal Government or its Agencies

Employees of the federal government or its agencies are exempt from tax on rental charges or room rates for transient accommodations, even though the employee may be reimbursed by the federal government or its agencies, only when:

1. The federal government or its agencies pays the rental charges or room rates directly to the owner or the owner’s representative of the transient accommodations or reimburses the employee for the actual rental charges or room rates;

2. The employee does not use the transient accommodations for personal purposes; and,

3. The employee provides the owner or the owner’s representative of the transient accommodations with the proper documentation.

Important: To authenticate that the Federal Government or its Agency employees are in pursuit of its employer’s affairs; the Dealer is required to retain a copy of the Federal Government or its Agency employees Exemption Certificate. See rules 12A-1.061 (15)(a)(1.)(2.)(3.) and 12A-1.038. (4)(c)FAC Federal Employee Exemption Certificate. The United States Government is not required to hold a Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption (Form DR-14) to make tax-exempt purchases and rentals.

Employees of governmental units other than the federal government or its agencies: i.e., state, county, city, or any other political subdivision of the state

that holds a Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption (Form DR-14) issued by the Department are exempt from tax on rental charges or room rates for transient accommodations only when:

a. The rental charges or room rates are billed directly to and paid directly by the governmental unit or the exempt organization;

b. The employee or representative does not use the transient accommodations for personal purposes; and,

c. The employee or representative provides the owner or the owner’s representative of the transient accommodations with proper documentation.

Rental charges or room rates paid with personal funds of any employee of a governmental unit, other than the federal government or its agencies, are subject to tax.

Important: To properly document the exemption for employees of governmental units (i.e., state, county, city, or any other political subdivision of the state) the Dealer is required to retain a copy of the valid Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption (Form DR-14) issued by the Florida Department of Revenue, and a copy of the face of the governmental unit exempt organizations “P-Card.” When the selling dealer cannot copy the “P-Card,” the dealer must retain the Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption number, the account number, cardholder’s name, and the expiration date of the “P-Card.” See rules 12A-1.061 (15)(b)(1.)(a)(b)(c)(2.) and 12A-1.038 (4.)(a)(b)(1.) FAC.

Foreign Diplomats

Sales to foreign diplomats, consular officers, consular employees, and members of their families are entitled to certain sales tax exemptions or limitations determined by the United States Department of State when the United States Department of State has determined that the foreign nation represented has a treaty with the United States that exempts United States diplomats, consular officers, consular employees, and members of their families from the foreign country's similar state and local sales taxes. Foreign diplomats and consular personnel seeking an exemption from Florida sales tax must personally present to the vendor at the time of purchase a tax exemption card issued to the individual by the United States Department of State. The tax exemption card will set forth the terms of the sales tax exemption to which the individual is entitled and will serve as the seller's authority to allow the specific sales tax exemption as provided on the card to the named person whose photograph appears on the card.

Important: To properly document the exemption, the Dealer must retain a copy of both sides of the tax exemption card containing the animal image representing the level of exemption. See rule 12A-1.0015 (4)(a)(b)(1.)(2.)(c) FAC; TIP No: 11A01-05 FDOR 7-15-11.

Full-Time Students

Full-time students enrolled in an institution offering postsecondary education who reside in transient accommodations are exempt from the taxes imposed on transient accommodations.

A written declaration of an appropriate official of the student’s institution reflecting that the student named in the declaration is a full-time student of the institution is proof of the student’s full-time enrollment. A written declaration of an appropriate official from the educational institution declaring the student is a full-time student is considered proof.

Important: A copy of the written declaration must be retained by the Dealer. See rule 12A-1.061(12)(a)(b)(c) FAC Full-time student written declaration.

Sales made to exempt entities other than governmental units

An entity that holds a valid Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption (Form DR-14) issued by the Florida Department of Revenue may extend a copy of its certificate to the selling dealer to purchase or rent taxable property, admissions, or services used for its authorized tax-exempt purpose in lieu of paying sales tax. Purchases of property, admissions, or services used for the entity’s authorized tax-exempt purposes must be made with the purchasing entity’s funds and may not be made with personal funds of the purchasing entity’s authorized representative. See rules 12A-1.061(15)(b)(1.)(a)(b)(c) and 1.038 (3)(a) FAC.

Important: The Dealer is required to retain a copy of the valid Consumer’s Certificate of Exemption (Form DR-14) issued by the Florida Department of Revenue, and a copy of the proof of payment identifying the entity as named on the exemption certificate. The form of payment must be in the name of the organization granted the exemption. Rental charges or room rates paid with personal funds are subject to tax.

An exemption certificate granted by any other state, District of Columbia, or territory of the United States to the selling dealer is not sufficient to make tax-exempt purchases or rentals in Florida.

The fact that an entity holds an exemption from federal income tax pursuant to s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, is not sufficient to make tax exempt purchases or rentals in Florida. See rule 12A-1.061 FAC.

Exempt - Long Term Lease

If you rent for six months and one day or longer, you must have a bona fide written lease to be exempt from the tax, Florida Admin Code 12A-1.061(b). Rental of accommodations to individuals who plan to stay more than six months may in some cases be subject to the tourist development tax.

For example, if a home is rented to an individual without a bona fide written lease (month-to-month), the renter is subject to the tourist development tax for the first six months. However, the renter becomes exempt from the tourist development tax after continuous residence beyond the six-month period.

Late Fees, Penalties & Interest

Penalty

Returns and payments must be paid in full online or postmarked by mail on or before the 20th of the month. If not received by the due date, a late fee will be assessed, which is a minimum of $50 up to 50 percent of tax due.

Under the following circumstances the Clerk may settle or compromise a taxpayer's liability for penalty without requiring the taxpayer to submit a written request.

For taxpayers who file returns and remit tax payment on a monthly basis:

Any penalty related to noncompliant filing event* shall be settled or compromised if the taxpayer has:

No noncompliant filing event in the immediately preceding 12-month period and no unresolved chapter 212 liability resulting from a noncompliant filing event; or one noncompliant filing event in the immediately preceding 12-month period, resolution of the current noncompliant filing event through payment of tax and interest and the filing of a return within 30 days after notification by the department, and no unresolved chapter 212 liability resulting from a noncompliant filing event.

If a taxpayer has two or more noncompliant filing events in the immediately preceding 12-month period, the taxpayer shall be liable, absent a showing by the taxpayer that the noncompliant filing event was due to extraordinary circumstances**, for the penalties provided in s. 212.12, including loss of collection allowance, and shall be reported to a credit bureau.

For taxpayers who file returns and remit tax on a quarterly basis:

Any penalty related to noncompliant filing event shall be settled or compromised if the taxpayer has no noncompliant filing event in the immediately preceding 12-month period and no unresolved chapter 212 liability resulting from a noncompliant filing event.

Interest

Interest is accrued for each day that the tax is delinquent. A floating rate of interest applies to underpayment and late payment of tax. The rate is updated January 1 and July 1 of each year by using the formula established in Florida Statute 213.235.

Collection Allowance

The collection allowance is not allowed for late submission, noncompliance or any on-time payment not submitted and paid online.


* Noncompliant filing event means a failure to timely file a complete and accurate return required under chapter 212 or a failure to timely pay the amount of tax reported on a return required by chapter 212.

** Extraordinary circumstances means the occurrence of events beyond the control of the taxpayer, such as, but not limited to, the death of the taxpayer, acts of war or terrorism, natural disasters, fire, or other casualty, or the nonfeasance or misfeasance of the taxpayer's employee or representatives responsible for compliance with the provisions of chapter 212. With respect to the acts of an employee or representative, the taxpayer must show that the principals of the business lacked actual knowledge of the noncompliance and that the noncompliance was resolved within 30 days after actual knowledge.

Audit Procedures

The Inspector General Department is responsible for the collection, audit, enforcement, and administration of the tax. The department conducts audits regularly. Written notification is sent at least 30 days prior to any audit to schedule a mutually agreed upon date and time to begin the audit.

All tourist development tax records must be retained for three years and made available for an audit at the place of business, within Lee County. Any records located outside Lee County, must be made available for inspection in Lee County prior to the audit.

If you have any questions regarding audit requirements please email TouristTaxAudit@leeclerk.org or call 239-533-5427.

Lee County Ordinance 13-14

Required Records for Audit

All records that substantiate transient rentals must be made available at the place of business, such as:

  • Bank statements
  • Cash receipts journal
  • Corporate minute book
  • Exemption certificates
  • Federal income tax returns
  • Florida corporation income tax returns
  • Florida sale and use tax returns
  • General ledger/journal
  • Guest checks/ledger cards
  • Housekeeping reports
  • List of clients
  • Monthly financial statements
  • Property records
  • Register tapes
  • Registrations
  • Reward point monthly statements
  • Sale/lease contracts
  • Sales journal
  • Sales receipts/invoices
  • Tourist development tax returns

Taxpayer Protest and Appeal Rights

What to expect from a Florida Tax Audit