December 7, 2022
California cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica approve ballot measures to impose new real estate transfer taxes at significantly higher rates
On November 8, 2022, California voters in Los Angeles and Santa Monica approved ballot measures to impose increased real estate transfer taxes on certain real property sales or transfers.
The Funding Affordable Housing and Tenant Assistance Programs Through A Property Transfer Tax ballot initiative (Initiative), which almost 58% of voters approved, imposes additional taxes on certain real property sales or transfers in the City of Los Angeles. Currently, the total real estate transfer tax rate for properties in Los Angeles is 0.56% (0.45% city rate + 0.11% county rate). Effective for transfers on or after April 1, 2023, the Initiative imposes an additional tax of:
Unlike the current transfer tax, the new transfer tax will be based on the fair market value (FMV) of the property, without any deduction for debt on the property when transferred. The following grid summarizes the effects the increases:
This additional tax seeks to raise funding for affordable housing and tenant-assistance programs. These rate increases are estimated to generate $600 million to $1.1 billion annually, with at least 92% of the funding directed at affordable housing and tenant-assistance programs. Additionally, the Initiative allows for certain exemptions from the tax for transfers to certain types of non-profit entities, community land trusts and cooperatives (among other similar entities).
Voters in the City of Santa Monica passed Measure GS (referred to as the Funding for Homelessness Prevention, Affordable Housing, and Schools Ballot Measure) to increase the City's transfer tax revenue by adding a third tier to its transfer tax rate structure. Effective March 1, 2023, Santa Monica's three-tier transfer tax rate structure will be as follows:
The Santa Monica tax rates are added to the 0.11% Los Angeles County transfer tax rate, for a total maximum rate of 5.77% for sales or transfers when the consideration or value of the interest or property is $8 million or more. Furthermore, Santa Monica's real estate transfer tax base continues to exclude debt secured by the property that is transferred.
These ballot initiatives place Los Angeles and Santa Monica among the highest real estate transfer tax rates in the nation.
Published by NTD’s Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Jennifer A Brittenham, legal editor