New California Bill Will Cost Property Owners Addtional Recording Fees

Since the downfall in the economy and the upswing in distressed property sales, sellers of short sale properties were not taxed by the federal government on what was called "unearned income".  Thus, if the loan balance before the sale was $200,000, but the owner could only sell at $150,000 as the current market value, there was no IRS tax on the difference and mortgage debt was forgiven.  California's Franchise Tax Board followed the IRS provision, so there was no California tax either.

But that state provision was due to expire and the bill to renew that provision, SB 30, has been up for vote by the Assembly and the Senate. However, a surprise amendment last May added Senate Bill 391 (California Homes and Jobs Act of 2013), and now is tied to the first bill and which includes a provision that requires a $75.00 recording tax to all recorded documents, which could be as many as 28 different types of documents, on a property.  The idea behind SB 391 is to fund a low-income housing trust with these $75 fees.  Bear in mind, not only the California Association of Realtors objected to this, but also the county recorders, assessors and title industry opposed this bill.

If the current impasse isn't overcome in the next few days, homeowners who sold a short sale this year might end up with a big tax bill.

Some people think that only "irresponsible" people are involved with short sales (really? what about if you just lost value in your home because the market went down?), however as one person recently pointed out:  "Why should just one subset of society, those that happen to need to record a document, be on the hook for funding subsidized housing?"  So true, jskdn, who wrote to The Sacramento Bee. 

 (a) (1) Commencing January 1, 2014, and except as provided in paragraph (2), in addition to any other recording fees specified in this code, a fee of seventy-five dollars ($75) shall be paid at the time of recording of every real estate instrument, paper, or notice required or permitted by law to be recorded except those expressly exempted from payment of recording fees. “Real estate instrument, paper, or notice” means a document relating to real property, including, but not limited to, the following: deed, grant deed, trustee’s deed, deed of trust, reconveyance, quit claim deed, fictitious deed of trust, assignment of deed of trust, request for notice of default, abstract of judgment, subordination agreement, declaration of homestead, abandonment of homestead, notice of default, release or discharge, easement, notice of trustee sale, notice of completion, UCC financing statement, mechanic’s lien, maps, and covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

Don't panic yet, home sales are excluded (normally there's about two recorded documents on a home sale).  But to return to the low-income housing trust fund, Dan Walter of The Sacramento Bee states: "One of the rare times the supermajority functioned was last spring when the Senate voted 27-0 for Senate Bill 391, which would impose fees on real estate transaction documents to raise money for low-income housing, at least $300 million a year."   This is another great example of how real estate is seen as the mother's milk for every funding idea/tax/fee that comes along.  $300 million to be gained from recording fees?  I wish there was an explanation for that projected amount of income. 

Did someone count 4,000,000 documents recorded statewide last year?

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/09/06/5711663/dan-walters-posion-pill-would.html#mi_rss=Dan%20Walters#storylink=cpy

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