Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No more "privacy" when it comes to transfer tax in CA

The custom and standard in commercial real estate in California is to have the deed state something like: "In accordance with Section 111932 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code, Grantor has declared the amount of the transfer tax which is due, DTT not of public record."  This makes it so that the purchase price cannot be computed from the amount of the transfer tax paid.  The formula for transfer tax in California is: $.55 per $500 of purchase price.  The purchase price is rounded to the nearest $500, then divided by $500, then multiplied by $.55 to compute the tax amount.  When the parties desire NOT to have this purchase price made public, they include the "non-public" election mentioned above.  Starting January 1, 2015, this option is no longer available meaning that all deeds will show the transfer tax and the public will be able to compute the purchase price based upon the above formula.  This is still not a "mindless" computation, however, in that the tax is on the "new value".  If the "purchase price" is $1,000,000 but is taken subject to a $1,000,000 existing first loan, then the "value" of that property would be $2,000,000 even though the tax would be computed on $1,000,000.  See: 

Some counties and cities impose additional transfer taxes, not all of which provide a reduction for the “continuing liens,” so further care is warranted.  See also California Real Property journal, Vol. 23, No. 2, A Practical Guide to Transfer Taxes in California by Dena Cruz and Scott Rogers which is a detailed analysis of the transfer tax issue.  It was published in 2005, so check the current statutes before relying on it.
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