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Erie County Hotel Occupancy Tax

Pursuant to Erie County Local Law No. 12-1974, and Chapter 614 of the Laws of the State of New York, Erie County started imposing the Hotel Occupancy Tax (“Bed Tax”) in December 1974.  Beginning in 2007, the tax is managed and administered by the Erie County Comptroller's Office, and is composed of two separate sections: a three percent (3%) tax and a five percent (5%) tax.

Who is Required to Collect the Tax?
Collection of the tax is required by any person, partnership, corporation, society, association, joint stock company, estate, receiver, trustee, assignee, referee, fiduciary, or representative who is an operator of a hotel as defined as: (a) a hotel; (b) an apartment hotel; (c) a motel; (d) a boarding house or club; (e) other building regularly used for the lodging of guests.

Certificate of Registration
Every operator of a hotel must complete and file with the Erie County Comptroller's Office a Certificate of Registration.  In the case of a new business, the certificate must be filed within three (3) days after the opening of the business.   

Certificates may also be obtained in person from the Erie County Comptroller's Office located at:

Erie County Comptroller's Office
Edward A. Rath County Office Building
95 Franklin Street, Room 1100
Buffalo, New York 14202

If more than one place of business is maintained, the Certificate of Registration should be filed for the principal place of business together with a list of the other business places located within Erie County.   For each location listed, please include the same information as requested on the Certificate of Registration.  This will enable the comptroller’s office to issue a duplicate Certificate of Authority for each additional place of business. 

Certificate of Authority
Upon receipt of a properly completed Certificate of Registration, the comptroller will issue a validated Certificate of Authority to the registrant. This empowers the registrant to collect the Bed Tax.  If the registrant has more than one place of business, a duplicate Certificate of Authority will be issued for each additional place of business.

The Certificate must be prominently displayed at the place of business to which it applies.

The Certificate is non-assignable and non-transferable.  It must be surrendered to the Erie County Comptroller by the registrant to whom it was issued if he ceases doing business at the location named in the certificate.  When the business is terminated by sale or other disposition, the operator must surrender the Certificate of Authority and should indicate the details of sale or other disposition.

What Items are Subject to Tax?
All hotel and motel rentals to persons who are in residence for periods of less than thirty (30) consecutive days.  Any hotel charges for telephone or cable movies, bar or restaurant charges or dry cleaning (for instance) while taxable for sales and compensating use taxes, are not taxable under the Hotel Occupancy Tax.

Exempt Organizations
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, any use or occupancy by any of the following shall not be subject to the tax imposed by this Local Law:

  • The State of New York, or any of its agencies, instrumentalities, public corporations (including a public corporation created pursuant to agreement or compact with another state or Canada), improvement districts, or political sub-divisions of the State;
  • The United States of America, or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, insofar as it is immune from taxation; and, 
  • Any corporation, association, trust or community chest, fund or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual and no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation; provided, however, that nothing in this sub-division shall include an organization operated for the primary purpose of carrying on a trade, or business for profit, whether or not all of its profits are payable to one or more organizations described in this sub-division.

(b) Where any organization described in paragraph (3) of sub-division (a) carries on its activities in furtherance of the purpose for which it was organized, in premises in which, as part of said activities, it operates a hotel, occupancy of rooms in the premises and rents therefrom received by such corporation shall not be subject to tax hereunder.

Form Used for Exempt Transactions
The Operator is required to collect the tax on a room rental unless a properly completed Exemption Certificate is provided.  Use of the Exemption Certificate is limited to the organizations described in items (a) and (b) above.

Rate of Tax
The rate of three percent (3%) is to be charged and paid upon the rent for every occupancy of a room in a hotel with 30 or less rooms located in Erie County.

The rate of five percent (5%) is to be charged and paid upon the rent for every occupancy of a room in a hotel with more than 30 rooms located in Erie County.

These rents shall not be charged to permanent residents.  After an individual has rented the same room for thirty (30) days or more, the Bed Tax does not apply.  Such rentals are reported to the county as exemptions to the Bed Tax, on the same line as other non-taxable exemptions, such as governmental employees renting rooms on official business.

Liability for Tax
Every operator of a hotel required to collect the Erie County Hotel Occupancy Tax is personally liable for the tax imposed, collected, or required to be collected.  He has the same right to collect the tax from his customer as if the tax were part of the room rent charged.

The Hotel Occupancy Tax is a personal liability of the owner of the hotel and a liability of the business.  Section 7 (b) of the Erie County Hotel Occupancy Tax Law states, “The operator and any officer of any corporate operator shall be personally liable for the tax collected or required to be collected.”

Accordingly, any hotel that is unable or fails to remit the Bed Tax to the county places its owner or officer of its corporate operator in the position of being personally liable for the debt and in violation of the law.  If a hotel that is delinquent in Bed Tax payments is sold, the original owner is still liable for the debt.  When establishments fail to remit the Bed Tax, the county has the authority to compel payments by seizing assets.

A rental shall be deemed a taxable rental unless the operator received from his customer a properly completed Exemption Certificate as described above under “Form Used for Exempt Transactions” in these instructions.

Pursuant to Local Law No.4-2007 which amended the Erie County Hotel Occupancy Tax Law, the County is allowed to identify any hotel/motel establishment who fails to comply with the law and fail to timely remit their collected Hotel Occupancy Taxes to the County.

Filing Returns
Any operator or other person engaged in activities subject to the Bed Tax is required to file a return, whether or not he has collected tax during the period for which he is filing. The return must be accompanied by a remittance covering any Bed Tax which may be due.

Forms for filing returns will be mailed to all taxpayers who have filed Certificates of Registration.  If forms are not received by mail, they may be obtained from the Erie County Comptroller's Office.

The Hotel Occupancy Tax and an attached tax return are due and payable to the county, without penalty or interest, within twenty (20) days of the end of each quarterly reporting period.  Those periods are: December 1 to February 28, March 1 to May 31, June 1 to August 31, and September 1 to November 30.

Returns are due as follows:

Quarterly PeriodDue Date
December 1st - February 28th March 20th
March 1st - May 31st June 20th
June 1st- August 31st September 20th
September 1st - November 30th December 20th

Any vendor filing quarterly returns who does not have to remit more than $250.00 (in total) with the four (4) quarterly returns ending May 31st may elect to file annually. Annual returns must be filed for the period June 1st - May 31st, no later than June 20th.

Payment of Tax
At the time of filing, every operator of a hotel who is required to file a return must pay the Hotel Occupancy Tax due. The remittance in payment of the tax should be made payable to "Erie County Comptroller".

Late Filing Charges
If a return is filed or payment is made after the due date, a late filing charge is due which consists of a penalty plus interest. Returns filed late incur a 5% penalty, and interest of 1% per month after the first month of delinquency.