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FAQ's Utility User Tax

 

What is the utility users tax?


The utility users tax is a tax imposed on the users of the following utility services in an unincorporated area of the County:
  • Intrastate, interstate and/or international telephone, cellular or wireless communication services.
  • Electrical energy services.
  • Gas services delivered through mains, pipes, or mobile transport.
  • Video and cable services.

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Who must pay the utility user's tax?


The utility users pay the tax to the utility services suppliers. The utility service suppliers collect the tax and remit it to the Tax Collector's Office.

Who is exempt from paying the utility user's tax?

Federal, state, and local government departments, bureaus and agencies.

  • Persons qualifying for the Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRA) offered by the Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation (PG&E).
  • Persons on life support systems who do not already qualify for the LIRA program (gas and electric charges).
  • Agricultural users for that portion of charges separately billed and metered electrical energy and gas provided by the service supplier as agricultural service use and non-residential agricultural business use.
  • Telephone companies, from the telephone tax only.
  • Gas and electrical companies such as, PG&E, from the electricity and gas tax only.

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How much is the tax?

The tax is 6.5% of the charges made to the utility user by the service supplier.

Is there a maximum tax that can be paid?

No.

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What are the duties of utility service suppliers in unincorporated areas of the County of Alameda?

  1. To register the business with the Tax Collector's Office by obtaining a business license;
  2. To collect the Utility Users Tax from the users;
  3. To file a return and remit the tax collected to the Tax Collector's Office; and
  4. To keep for seven (7) years all records necessary to determine the amount of such tax that the service supplier may have been required to collect and remit.

When must the utility users tax be remitted?

The service supplier must remit the full amount of the tax collected for each month to the Tax Collector, on or before the last day of the following month. The return must be on the form provided by the Tax Collector.

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What if a utility supplier fails or refuses to collect the tax from the utility user?

The utility supplier will be liable for the tax and for penalties and interest. The County of Alameda Tax Collector's Office will determine and assess the utility users tax due, plus penalties and interest. The penalty is 5% of the tax due. If the tax due is not remitted within 10 working days after the date of delinquency, the utility supplier shall pay a total penalty of 20% of the amount of tax owed. In addition, the utility supplier shall pay 1% interest per month on the amount of tax owed exclusive of penalties, from the date on which the tax first became delinquent until paid.

How long do records need to be kept?

Every person required to collect and remit utility users taxes must keep all records for a period of 7 years. The Tax Collector has the right to inspect these records at all reasonable times.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on the utility users tax, refer to:

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