Alex Alford

Alex Alford

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Please click here to view a current list of the Walton County CAFR. The CAFR is written for the financially-oriented reader who has a strong interest in an in-depth, detailed explanation of how funds are spent in Walton County. Please note: These are large documents.

Annual Citizens Report

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Fraud, Waste, & Abuse

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What is the Tourist Development Tax?

The Tourist Development Tax is a local sales tax, authorized and governed by Florida Statute 125.0104, on transient rentals. Because it applies exclusively to rental of living quarters or accommodations for a term of six months or less, it has been nicknamed the “bed tax.”

In Walton County, the Tourist Development Tax rate is 4.5% and applies to rentals of properties located south of the Intracoastal Waterway. This area includes Hwy. 30-A, Hwy. 98, Emerald Coast Parkway, Scenic Gulf Drive, and all of Walton County’s beaches south of Choctawhatchee Bay.

After administrative costs, the revenue from the 4.5% Tourist Development Tax is used as follows: 2% for marketing/promotion and beach maintenance, 1% for shoulder season promotion and new product development, 1% for beach nourishment and restoration, and 0.5% for the promotion of emerging markets. The Tourist Development Council oversees the expenditures of the tax and reports to the Walton County Board of County Commisioners.

Managers of rental properties and owners who manage their own rentals are responsible for collecting, accounting for, and remitting Tourist Development Tax from their guests to the Walton County Clerk of Court. Remittance is normally due monthly, but seasonal rentals and individual rental owners may qualify to file quarterly.

Online registration and filing are offered at www.touristtax.com/Walton .  Two major advantages of online payment are that the tax due is calculated automatically and timely filers also receive a collection allowance discount of 2.5% of the tax due, maximum $30.00. If you prefer to register or file manually, click here for a registration form and click here for a Tourist Development Tax return form.

Walton County Clerk of Court
Attention: Tourist Development Tax
31 Coastal Centre Blvd, Suite 500
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Telephone: (850) 267-2040
Fax: (850) 267-1335
E-Mail: sunjoyce@co.walton.fl.us

What are the rules for collecting and remitting the Tourist Development Tax?

Tourist Development Tax returns are due on the 1st of the month following the end of the collection period and delinquent if postmarked after the 20th. When the 20th falls on a Saturday, Sunday or county/state/federal holiday, the postmark deadline shall be the next business day.

If a return is delinquent, the collection allowance may not be taken and penalty and interest will be due. The penalty is 10% of the tax due, with a minimum penalty of $50.00. Interest accrues daily at a variable rate established by the Florida Department of Revenue. If noncompliance continues, collection action is taken as outlined in the Florida Statutes.

Managers / owners are also required to keep all records associated with rental revenue, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, for a period of three years. These records must be made available for audit upon 60 days notice from the Walton County Clerk of Court.

Exemptions from the Tourist Development Tax

If a written lease for a term of more than six months was signed at the beginning of the rental, that tenant is exempt from paying Tourist Development Tax. Six-month leases and month-to-month rentals are subject to the tax. If a monthly tenant stays longer than six months, they become exempt beginning with the seventh month.

Also, rentals made for business purposes by governments or non-profit organizations may be exempt if certain conditions are met. Examples of tax-exempt rentals and your requirements for exempting these rentals may be obtained from the Florida Department of Revenue or the Walton County Clerk of Court.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Tourist Development Tax

Question: Are there other taxes I must collect on my rentals?
Answer: Yes. In addition to the Tourist Development Tax, you must collect and remit state sales tax (currently 6%) and local sales tax (currently 1.5%) to the Florida Department of Revenue. The total tax to charge your guests is currently 12%. You may register online with the Florida Department of Revenue at http://www.myflorida.com/dor/eservices/apps/register/.

Question: I manage my own rental property, but I reside in another county or state and none of the money for my rentals changes hands in Walton County. Are my rentals still subject to these taxes?
Answer: Yes, they are. Taxability is based upon the location of the rental property, not the location of the financial transaction.

Question: I rent my property on the Internet. I have heard that Internet sales are not taxable.
Answer: While there may be circumstances where sales of personal property via the Internet are not subject to tax, the Florida Statutes are very clear that all rentals of accommodations in the State of Florida are subject to applicable taxes.

Question: All of my rentals are handled by a property management company. What are my Tourist Development Tax responsibilities?
Answer: If your property management company is collecting and remitting tax for all of your property’s rentals under their Tourist Development Tax ID number, you are not required to file your own returns (although you may still need to register with the Florida Department of Revenue). However, if you personally collect rental revenue or any other form of compensation from any of your guests, you must collect and remit the taxes for those stays. Also, please be aware that, under Florida law, property owners are ultimately responsible for sales taxes if a property manager defaults or fails to collect or remit the tax.

Question: My property is used by friends and relatives at times during the year. Am I required to collect the Tourist Development Tax from them?
Answer: If you collect rent from them, or accept any other compensation in lieu of rent, you are required to collect and remit Tourist Development Tax based upon the rent paid or upon the fair market value of the compensation received. If compensation is not received nor expected from your friends or relatives, you should be sure to document that in your records in case of audit.

Question: My guests must pay a cleaning fee in addition to their rent. Is the cleaning fee taxable?
Answer: Anything that the guest is required to pay as a condition of occupying the property is subject to the Tourist Development Tax. Common examples include (but are not limited to) cleaning fees, reservation/processing fees, amenities fees, and nonrefundable pet deposits. The primary exception is refundable damage deposits. In addition, if you provide extra furnishings upon request for an additional fee (for example, cribs, rollaways, etc.), that charge is also subject to the Tourist Development Tax.

Question: I have rental property in other counties in Florida. How do I determine if my other rentals are subject to a Tourist Development Tax, and if so, who do I contact?
Answer: Most Florida counties do impose a Tourist Development Tax on transient rentals. The counties that self-administer the tax belong to the Florida Tourist Development Tax Association, Inc. (FTDTA). You may visit the directory on the FTDTA’s website at http://www.ftdta.org/regions.htm . If no contacts are listed for the county your property is in, please check with the Florida Department of Revenue as they collect the Tourist Development Tax for many of the smaller counties.

Question: I have been renting for some time now, but was not aware of my responsibility to collect and remit Tourist Development Tax. I’d like to begin complying, but I am afraid that I have a large tax liability.
Answer: Depending on the circumstances, there are several ways that a rental owner or manager making a voluntary disclosure of a tax liability can minimize their past amount due. Please be assured that we will work with you in order to bring your property into compliance.

Our goal is to assist rental owners and managers of properties in Walton County in fulfilling their statutory responsibilities through collector education and voluntary compliance. For additional information, please contact:

Walton County Clerk of Court
Tourist Development Tax
31 Coastal Centre Blvd., Suite 500
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Telephone: (850) 267-2040
Fax: (850) 267-1335
E-Mail: sunjoyce@co.walton.fl.us