Ca. Tax Lawyer - 2019, VOL. 28, NO. 2

Feds To The Rescue: 2019 California Transfer Tax Update

Dena M. Cruz

Dena M. Cruz is a partner at Berding Weil, LLP in Walnut Creek, CA and is a former member of the Executive Committee of the Real Property Section of the State Bar of California.


California Assessor-Recorders require the payment of a tax on most instruments that transfer an interest in real property.1 The documentary transfer tax is not a fee paid in connection with the recordation of deeds or other documents evidencing transfers of ownership of real property. Rather, it is an excise tax on the privilege of conveying real property by means of a written instrument.2 Such taxes typically become due on execution and delivery of the document transferring title. Federal, state, and local laws must be reviewed before execution and delivery of the transfer document to determine whether the transfer is subject to taxation, if an exemption is available, or when the payment becomes delinquent.

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