Documentary Transfer Tax*
Revenue & Taxation Code 11911-11913 11931-11935

  • What is documentary transfer tax?
    A tax imposed on each recorded document in which real property is sold.
  • How much is the documentary transfer tax?
    The tax rate is $.55 for each $500 (commonly referred to as $1.10 per $1,000), or fractional part thereof, of the value of real property, less any loans assumed by the buyer. Additionally individual cities may impose their own city real property transfer tax at full value. NOTE: Some Cities have additional Transfer Tax amounts. See our website "City Tax" column for specific amounts.
  • When is documentary transfer tax paid?
    The tax is paid at the time of recording a document transferring real property.
  • Who pays documentary transfer tax?
    Varies depending upon which City and County the property is located.
  • How do I show the amount of tax due?
    Each document in which real property is sold must have a tax declaration on the first page of the document.
  • When is realty considered to have been "sold?"
    Real property is considered to be sold when a transfer of an interest is for a valuable consideration, which may involve money or anything of value.
  • What is considered "anything of value?"
    Examples of things other than money that have value are: shares of stock in a corporation, interest in a partnership, real property or assuming the debt of another person.
  • When is realty considered to not have been "sold?"
    The most used example is a bona fide gift. This exclusion is commonly used when adding or removing a co-signor from real property. Gift must be given as the explanation of no tax due. Other examples include: placing real property in a trust for the benefit of the grantor (revocable trust), distribution of partnership property when the partnership is dissolving, and changing how title is held (from joint tenancy to tenants in common).
  • Are there any exemptions from documentary transfer tax?
    Yes. If the property is considered to have been sold there are several exemptions under the law. These exemptions relate to specific causes of real property transfers and are infrequently used.
  • Are there any other requirements?
    Yes. Each document transferring an interest in real property must clearly state, on its face, if the property is located in the county's unincorporated area or within a city's limits.
  • Where can I go to get help in determining the amount of tax due?
    Contact a real estate or legal professional.

*The information contained herein should not be construed as a recommendation for any course of action regarding financial, legal or accounting matters by Chicago Title. It is not meant as a substitute for professional advice from a qualified legal, accounting or financial professional. Chicago Title assumes no liability for any loss incurred by the reason of reliance thereon.