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Amendment Holds SB 30 Hostage to Passage of SB 391

California Senate Leadership seeks to punish homeowners and REALTORS® for opposing $75 recording tax.

LOS ANGELES (May 23) – This morning the Senate Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 30 (R. Calderon), which would extend existing provisions of state law protecting homeowners from having to pay income tax on a "short sale." SB 30 is sponsored by the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.).

However, in a surprise amendment, SB 30 was linked by the committee to another bill that REALTORS®, as well the county recorders, assessors and title industry, oppose. That measure, Senate Bill 391 (DeSaulnier), would establish a $75 per document recording tax to fund an affordable housing trust fund. C.A.R. is opposing SB 391 because it unfairly adds to the cost of recording real estate documents. The amendment holds SB 30 hostage to the passage of SB 391.

"Families that are forced to make the difficult decision to sell their home as a short sale are already in financial trouble. And, that financial trouble may be due to a serious illness and/or loss of employment. They simply can’t afford to pay an additional tax on money they’ve never actually received," stated C.A.R. President Don Faught. "I'm outraged -- as should the voters of California -- that the Senate leadership would approve linking the fate of SB 30 to that of SB 391, effectively holding California property owners hostage."

Short sales have become an increasingly important alternative to foreclosure for homeowners "underwater" on their mortgage. Without special protection, federal and state law would view the debt forgiven by a lender in a short sale as income and, as a result, that “income” would be taxed. In recent years, state and federal law has been amended to keep this “phantom” income from being taxed, but California protections have not been extended. Consequently, C.A.R. is sponsoring SB 30.

While SB 391 does not apply to sale transactions, the measure applies anytime a home/property owner records a document (e.g., refinancing, transferring into or out of a trust, liens, quit claim deeds, etc.). C.A.R. is an aggressive advocate for affordable housing, but believes it is bad policy to fund affordable housing at the expense of home/property owners who need to record real estate documents. The amendment to SB 30 attempts to extort support for the new tax on homeowners in SB 391.

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