$345 Million in SF Transfer Tax Collection in 2020-2021
For Immediate Release
Date: Friday, October 15, 2021
Contact: Holly Lung, 415-554-5386
***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT***
San Francisco, CA – Today, Assessor Joaquín Torres announced $345 million in transfer tax was collected in fiscal year 2020-2021. Total revenues include $319 million from real estate transactions during the fiscal year, and $26 million collected from the Transfer Tax Audit program. In 2020-2021, Citywide revenues outperformed budget projections largely due to better-than-expected property tax; the passage of November 2020 Proposition I which increased real property transfer tax rates; and increased activity in real property transfer tax.
“Transfer tax revenue plays a vital role in San Francisco’s efforts to mitigate the economic and financial impact of the pandemic and invests in our ongoing recovery,” said Assessor Joaquín Torres. “We know the vulnerabilities exposed by COVID-19 have affected the full diversity of socioeconomic groups, with disproportionate impacts on women and communities of color. The hard work of my office to bring in this additional revenue expands our city’s opportunities to deliver new and proven programs that respond to the diverse needs of San Franciscans.”
The Recorder division of the Office of the Assessor-Recorder is charged with the responsibility to record and archive all official records and collect revenues from the recording of the legal documents, including transfer tax. Transfer tax is collected when land or real property is transferred from an individual or entity to another. The transfer tax amount is based on the purchase price, or fair market value, of the transaction.
In San Francisco, the transfer tax rate is variable, a tiered system ranging from a tax rate of 0.5% applied to Tier 1 transactions of up to $250,000, to 6% applied to Tier 6 transactions of $25 million or more. The higher the purchase price, the higher the tax rate. In 2020, over 25% of transfer tax revenues came from Tier 3’s tax rate of 0.75%, which are transfers valued from $1 million to $5 million. Over 50% of the transfer tax revenue came from Tier 6 which are transactions valued $25 million or more. See Transfer Tax Revenue by Tax Tier chart below.
In 2015, the office launched the Transfer Tax Audit Program on our own initiative to confirm reported sales values for real estate transactions. San Francisco is currently the only county in the state with this type of audit program for transfer tax. Since inception, over $70 million in underreported transfer tax, penalties and interest has been identified for collection.
“In 2020 alone, the audit and demand program brought in over $26 million to support citywide essential services, health and safety programs, cleanliness, and investments in our city’s cultural and economic recovery. The audit program acts to deter the non-reporting of real estate ownership changes, ensure equity, and create accountability so that everyone pays their fair share.” said Assessor Torres.
In addition to collecting the revenues from the recording of legal documents, the Office of the Assessor-Recorder is responsible for fairly and accurately valuing over 200,000 taxable real property parcels. This year, San Francisco’s taxable value hit a record $328 billion that will bring in $3.7 billion in property tax revenue. Property tax is one of the most stable sources of revenue, providing over 30% to San Francisco’s General Fund.
For more information on transfer tax, including tax tiers, visit:
City Hall Office:
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place Room 190
San Francisco, CA 94102-4698
Tel: (415) 554-5596