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Los Angeles approves new “mansion tax”

If you’re looking to pass a new ordinance and/or create a new tax, it’s important to have the right name. Take, for example, Los Angeles’ new “mansion tax.” The majority of people do not have a so-called “mansion.” And so signaling to people that you’re going to tax this thing and then redistribute the funds to help others with better housing is, not surprisingly, attractive to many. Here’s how the new tax works:

Known as Measure ULA — for “United to House LA” — the ordinance marketed as a “mansion tax” will impose a 4% tax on property sales above $5 million, rising to 5.5% on sales above $10 million. So a $5-million sale would include a $200,000 tax, and a $10-million sale would include a $550,000 tax, which is typically paid by the seller.

Of course, if you’re a rich person with a mansion, your first thought is going to be, “how do I avoid having to pay this?” Here are two unproven and possibly illegal options that I am not condoning in any way:

For example, if a homeowner is selling a mansion for $15 million, they’d be slapped with a $825,000 tax bill. But if they split up the property into three parts owned by three different entities and sold all three pieces for $4.999 million each, they would hypothetically elude the tax since it only kicks in at $5 million.

Another strategy might be to hatch deals off the books to keep a sale under $5 million. For example, if a seller wanted $7 million for their house, they could reach a deal with a buyer to sell it for $4.999 million, thus avoiding the tax, but then sell the furniture in the home for $2 million.

I don’t have a mansion, so I’m fortunate enough not to have to worry about such things. But I do think about the impact on things like new rental supply. My understanding of the ordinance is that if you’re a developer of rental housing, and you buy a lot for $4.99 million, build a mid-market apartment, and then turn around and sell it to a pension fund for $10.01 million, you would be subject to this new tax.

Hmm. I wouldn’t call this a mansion.

1 Comment so far

  1. doug pollard

    This is not about the post, in fact the opposite
    I think people send you stuff all the time

    Here is an effort in Seattle to deal with homeless by allowing the construction of small self-reliant LBC quality homes placed in backyards. One step further than permitting laneway homes but perhaps the next cause for TO (and probably Vancouver) I think there have been similar efforts for what are usually called granny suites

    In Mexico where I am this is common, and the extra homes are called casitas

    have a look


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