November 10, 2022

Los Angeles Voters May Approve "Mansion Tax" Affecting High-Value Real Property

Holland & Knight Alert
Douglas A. Praw | Andrew J. Starrels | Samara Harris

In response to the homelessness crisis, voters in the city of Los Angeles were asked to vote on Measure ULA, aka the "mansion tax," on Nov. 8, 2022. Measure ULA seeks to raise funding for affordable housing and tenant assistance programs by imposition of a massively increased transfer tax to be charged on certain transfers of real property. Both sellers and buyers of commercial and residential real estate need to be aware of this new tax and its impact on the net purchase price in a purchase and sale transaction. It is anticipated that this new tax will have a ripple effect in the market as the extra cost is significant and likely changes underwriting assumptions.

How Does Measure ULA Work?

At present, both the city of Los Angeles and the county of Los Angeles levy a documentary transfer tax on every instrument that conveys land sold within the city. When the value of the property exceeds $100, the city tax is collected at a rate of $4.50 per $1,000 of consideration, while the county tax is levied at a rate of $1.10 per $1,000 of consideration, for a total of $5.60 per $1,000 of consideration.

If Measure ULA passes, effective April 1, 2023, there will be a drastic increase in the transfer tax amounts by imposing an additional tax on the sale or transfer of "high-value" real properties within the boundaries of the city. A tax of 4 percent of the property's value will be imposed on the sale of properties valued between $5 million and $10 million. If the property is valued at $10 million or more, the sale will be subject to a 5.5 percent tax. The value of the property for the purposes of the measure will include the value of any lien or encumbrance remaining on the property when it is sold. By way of example, starting on April 1, 2023, a seller of real property valued at $100 million will pay $5.5 million more in transfer taxes to the city. Note that if it passes, Measure ULA will become law on Jan. 1, 2023, but it will not impact transactions until April 1, 2023.   

Certain qualified affordable housing organizations are exempt from the tax. To qualify for an exemption, the transferee must show a history of affordable housing development and/or housing property management experience, as determined by the Los Angeles Housing Department. Additionally, the measure will not apply to certain housing, nonprofit and public entities.

The measure is expected to raise between $600 million to $1.1 billion annually, fluctuating based on the amount of property transferred. A minimum of 92 percent of the revenue will be used by the Affordable Housing Program and the Homeless Prevention Program to fund affordable housing and tenant assistance initiatives.

Potential Effects

The impact of the measure will likely be widespread. In addition to owners of high-value residential real estate, commercial tenants and occupants city-wide will bear the brunt of the new tax. Rents could rise, businesses may close and others may choose not to invest or buy property in the city, absent some correction in the sale price of assets that accommodates the new transfer tax. Additionally, even though the tax affects property with a value at or more than $5 million, there will be a trickle down impact on small- and medium-size commercial and residential sale transactions.

Also, check back as additional votes are counted and precincts report. As of this writing, not all votes in the city of Los Angeles have been counted.  

For more information or questions on Measure ULA and its potential impact on purchase and sale transactions, contact the authors. 

Upcoming Related Webinars

California's 2023 Housing Laws Part I: Housing Law Heavy Hitters

Wednesday, November 16, 2022
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PT
Speakers: Dan Golub, Chelsea Maclean and Emily Warfield
Register online

California's 2023 Housing Laws Part II: A Deeper Dive and the Broader Picture

Wednesday, December 7, 2022
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. PT
Speakers: Dan Golub, Chelsea Maclean, Kevin Ashe and William Sterling
Register online

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.

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