Transfer tax is a transaction fee imposed on the transfer of land or real property from one person (or entity) to another.

The transfer tax rate is variable, depending on the consideration paid (purchase price) OR the fair market value, as shown in the chart below.

If entire value or consideration is ... Tax rate for entire value or consideration is ...
More than $100 but less than or equal to $250,000 $2.50 for each $500 or portion thereof
More than $250,000 but less than $1,000,000 $3.40 for each $500 or portion thereof
$1,000,000 or more but less than $5,000,000 $3.75 for each $500 or portion thereof
$5,000,000 or more but less than $10,000,000 $11.25 for each $500 or portion thereof
$10,000,000 or more but less than $25,000,000 $13.75 for each $500 or portion thereof
$25,000,000 or more $15.00 for each $500 or portion thereof

Transfer taxes are also imposed on leaseholds with a term of 35 years or more, and transfers involving legal entities that own real property in San Francisco. The authority to collect transfer taxes and list of documentary transfer tax exemptions are codified in Article 12C of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code.

Please use our transfer tax calculator to estimate your transfer tax.

Transfer Tax Calculator

Your transfer tax rate is - for each $500 or portion thereof.

 

Exemptions will only be made if the recording party claims a valid documentary transfer tax exemption (see transfer tax affidavit for valid exemptions and to calculate transfer taxes). If a transfer tax exemption is claimed, written documentation proving the exemption must be submitted at the time of recording, otherwise transfer taxes are due. Written documentation includes, but is not limited to, copies of trust or formation documents of legal entities (i.e. LLC operating agreement, Corporate By Laws/Minutes/Register, partnership agreement, etc.)

A Transfer Tax Affidavit must accompany all documents submitted for recordation in which transfer tax is due, or an exemption is claimed.

Do These Common Types of Transfers Cause a Transfer Tax?

  1. Between a married couple? No
  2. Between domestic partners? No
  3. Gifts? No
  4. Inheritance? No
  5. Add or remove co-signor or co-owner solely for refinancing purposes (no consideration)? No
  6. Between parent(s) and child(ren) for consideration? Yes
  7. Individual(s) to/from his/her own trust? No
  8. Individual(s) to his/her own Limited Liability Company or Limited Partnership or Corporation? No

A Transfer Tax Affidavit must be submitted when any document transfers any land, tenements, or other realty in the City, including but not limited to a deed (all types), a memorandum of lease, a grant of easement, an assignment of a lease or sublease, a certificate of transfer of TDRs, or a document or documents effecting an Unrecorded Legal Entity Transaction, even if no transfer tax is due.

The purpose of this form is to explain the nature of the transaction and to determine if the transfer is taxable. Please note that after your transaction is processed, our office may ask you for additional information to understand the transaction and the statements that you made on the transfer tax affidavit.

 

For transfers where the purchase price or consideration paid for the real property being transferred is available (such as for transfers via deed), transfer taxes generally are based on that purchase price or consideration. In cases where such price or consideration is unavailable, such as when there is a swap of property (for example a parking space transfer), the tax is generally on the fair market value of the property transferred.

For taxable transfers of interests in legal entities that own real property in San Francisco, the transfer tax basis generally is the fair market value of the real property deemed to have transferred as a result of the transfer of the interests in the legal entity.

For long-term (35+ years) leases, the transfer tax basis generally is the present value of the leasehold interest, per the contract (not market) rent terms of the lease being recorded.

For Transferable Development Rights (TDR) – Certificate of Transfer, the transfer tax basis generally is the purchase price per unit of TDR x # of units transferred.

No, there generally is no transfer tax if you are the sole trust beneficiary. Be sure you completely fill out the Preliminary Change of Ownership form (Part 1(k)) and the Transfer Tax Affidavit (including question #7) indicating that the transfer is a proportional interest transfer.

If the name of the trust contains the name of the individual, no additional documentation is required. If the individual’s name does not appear on the trust, a copy of the trust or a declaration of trust showing the present beneficiaries must be provided. A certification of trust does not state the names of the beneficiaries or the real property interest owned by the trust, and is therefore not acceptable documentation to establish a proportional transfer exemption.

Transfer taxes generally are not due as long as the proportional ownership interests remain exactly the same before and after the transfer. Be sure you completely fill out the Preliminary Change of Ownership form (Part 1(m)) and the Transfer Tax Affidavit (including question #7) indicating that the transfer is a proportional interest transfer.

Copies of the legal entity formation documents (e.g., LLC Operating Agreement, Partnership Agreement, etc.) for both legal entities, with amendments up to and including the date of the transfer, are required to verify that the ownership composition is the same before and after the transfer.

Absent any other exemption, the transfer tax would be due based on 100% of the fair market value of the property because the LLC is treated as a separate “person” and the proportional ownership interests will not remain the same after the completion of the transfer.

There generally is no transfer tax when adding/or removing an individual solely for financing purposes, as long as nobody paid anything in exchange for the property. If there is monetary consideration in exchange for adding an individual to title, the transfer tax basis would generally be the consideration paid. Be sure to completely fill out the Preliminary Change of Ownership form Part 1(i) and Transfer Tax Affidavit (including question #8), indicating that you are adding or releasing a co-signer for no consideration.

If there is consideration paid, transfer taxes are owed when an individual is added to title. The transfer tax basis generally is the consideration paid by your child to be added to title.

However, if the transfer is a gift, then there generally is no transfer tax. On the Preliminary Change of Ownership form, be sure to mark the gift box in part 2. In addition, on the Transfer Tax Affidavit, mark the Gift box in question #8 and completely fill out and sign the Transfer Tax Affidavit form.

Please note that the Assessor-Recorder may transmit deeds and tax affidavits for all claimed gift exemptions to the Internal Revenue Service. Our staff may not give you financial or legal advice. Questions regarding gift tax should be directed to the Internal Revenue Service or your financial advisor.

Generally there is no transfer tax due on transfers between a married couple or between domestic partners who are registered with the City, the State, or other jurisdictions. You must fill out the Preliminary Change of Ownership form (Part 1 (a)) and Transfer Tax Affidavit (including question #9) indicating that it is a transfer between a married couple or domestic partners.

There generally is no transfer tax for property inherited by will or through a trust as long as nobody paid anything in exchange for the property. Be sure you fill out the Preliminary Change of Ownership form and Transfer Tax Affidavit (including question #8) indicating that it is an inheritance and provide the date of death.

Please note that the Assessor-Recorder may transmit deeds and tax affidavits for all claimed inheritance exemptions to the Internal Revenue Service. Our staff may not give you financial or legal advice. Questions regarding taxes on inheritances should be directed to the Internal Revenue Service or your financial advisor.

When there is a legal entity change in ownership due to the ownership interests being received as a gift, there generally is no transfer tax as long as nobody paid anything in exchange for receiving the ownership interests.

These FAQs provide a broad, generalized summary of the law applicable to the City’s Real Property Transfer Tax to assist you. They are not intended to replace the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code, which provides the law with respect to the City’s Real Property Transfer Tax, or the advice of an attorney or tax advisor.