TRUCKEE, Calif. — Officials are considering enhanced enforcement and education regarding the town’s Transient Occupancy Taxes after collecting its largest-ever amount this past fiscal year.
“One of the big unknowns ... is really trying to analyze what is the number of potential homes that are being rented without being registered,” said Chrissy Earnhardt, administrative services manager, at Tuesday’s Truckee Town Council meeting.
TOT — a 10 percent tax on rentals for less than 31 consecutive nights — serves as Truckee’s third largest source of general fund revenue, according to the town. The tax funds the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce Marketing program and Visitor Center operations, among other efforts.
The primary industry for Truckee used to be construction, Earnhardt said, but it has slowed due in part to the recession, with tourism taking its place.
In conjunction, websites are making it easier for homeowners and management companies to rent out single-family homes — thus making TOT enforcement more challenging for the town.
“It is obvious if a new hotel goes up in town, but not so obvious if a property owner decides to rent out their home on a transient basis without registering to collect and pay TOT,” Earnhardt said in a report.
Currently, 1,255 rental units are signed up with the town, and 1,000 are active. Of those, 250 are managed by individual homeowners, 735 are managed by property managers and 15 are hotels.
For the town to get a better idea of compliance, staff is recommending an online audit of rentals and an education initiative through bulk mailings and public announcements.
These efforts, suggested to take place over 18 months, are expected to cost the town approximately $20,000, coming from its administrative services personnel and supplies and services budgets.
“You are embarking on what I consider to be a valuable exercise in information gathering,” John Falk, legislative advocate for the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors, told council members. “To proceed with any confidence toward a more enforcement-based approach, you really do need additional information and insight.”
A detailed initiative will be presented to town council at a future date for approval.