This document contains summary information about the City of Santa Cruz, California, Admission Tax. It is not a complete representation of the ordinance. Your event(s) may be subject to the tax. If so, you will need to register for collection of the tax at the City Finance Dept.
Please direct any inquiries to:
City of Santa Cruz, Finance Department
809 Center Street, Room 101
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
ph 831-420-5070 or e-mail
Information for ongoing events
Information for one-time events
The Admission Tax
The admission tax ordinance (Chapter 3.36 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code) was adopted by the Santa Cruz City Council effective October 1, 1986. A copy of the ordinance may be obtained from the City Clerk's Office or the Finance Dept. The tax is designed to raise revenues from admission and registration charges for attendance at recreational and entertainment activities and events.
Taxable operations may include, but are not limited to: races, dances, concerts, picnics, entertainment events, sports, lectures, films, etc. An admission termed "donation" is still taxable if the fee is a set price. Nonprofit organizations are not exempt from collecting the tax. Political fundraising activities are also subject to the tax. See Section 3.36.040 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code for specific exemptions of charges subject to the admission tax.
Active Bodily Health Exemption
Established health clubs, athletic gyms, martial arts studios, yoga studios and physical fitness facilities, that do not take same day payment for facility use or classes can apply for an exemption from submitting Admission Tax payments. Please submit an Admission Tax Exemption Certification Form to the Finance department for consideration.
How Does It Work?
The tax is 5% on the price of admission or registration for events within the city limits of Santa Cruz. For example, an admission of $5.00 would be taxed $.25; for a total of $5.25 to be collected. The tax collected is remitted to the City Finance Department.
What to Do if You Have Ongoing Operations:
If you regularly provide recreation, entertainment, or any "event" subject to admission tax on an ongoing basis, you must register (Admission Tax Certificate Application) with the Finance Department, 809 Center Street, Room 101, for an Admission Tax Operator's Certificate (no fee) prior to collecting the tax. The certificate must be posted conspicuously at your place of business or the location of your ongoing event. You will then be issued a supply of monthly remittance forms. The forms are sent to the Finance Department along with your tax remittance on a monthly basis. The tax collected must be sent to the City on or before the last day of the month following the close of the prior month. If the tax is not remitted on time, penalties and interest will apply. If you happen to have a month in which no admission tax is collected, you must still send your monthly tax form to the Finance Department.
Admission Tax Return - Remittance Form [PDF]
Admission Tax Certificate Application (For On-going Operators) [PDF]
What to Do if You Have One-time/Infrequent Operations
If you have a one-time event, and do not provide ongoing events, you must register in the Finance Department for a one-time admission tax operator's certificate prior to collecting the tax. The certificate must be displayed at the event for which tax is to be collected. At the time of registration, you must also estimate the number of admissions or registrations to the event, and pay an advance deposit based on the estimated admissions. You will be provided with an Admissions Tax Deposit form for this purpose. You will also be provided with an Admissions Tax Return form to be completed and returned to the Finance Department within ten (10) days after the event. You will determine the actual number of admissions and the total amount of admission tax due from the event. If additional tax is due, it is remitted to the Finance Department. If a refund of overpayment is due, a claim form will be completed by the Finance Dept., and the refund will be mailed to you. If the tax is not remitted to the City on time, penalties and interest will apply.
One-Time Event Admission Tax Form [PDF]