Riverside County supervisors today authorized a change in a tax ordinance aimed at preventing businesses from sidestepping fees charged whenever changes in corporate ownership occur.
The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to let Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward expand the enforceability of the county's documentary transfer tax, which applies whenever "changes in ownership" occur.
According to county officials, new owners took possession of about 615 parcels countywide in transactions that went unreported at the local level between 2008 and 2012.
The cumulative loss to the county -- due to uncollected documentary transfer taxes -- was estimated at $1.5 million, officials said.
The Assessor-Clerk-Recorder's office wants to move away from "self- reporting" and institute a tracking mechanism whereby transfers of any significance do not escape notice.
Assistant Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Michelle Martinez told City News Service the agency is mainly concerned with ensuring that corporate entities don't get away with not paying the documentary transfer tax.
The tax, established under the California Revenue and Taxation Code, is $1.10 per every $1,000 of value on real assets and paid when documents are filed with the county.
According to Martinez, document transfers often go unrecorded when ownership shares in a corporation shift from one executive to another. The county doesn't find out about it until after the state Franchise Tax Board notifies the State Board of Equalization, after which word reaches the county, resulting in long delays.
"When an ownership interest changes, the property becomes re- appraisable," Martinez said. "We're interested in those unrecorded changes of control of a property."
Martinez said the Assessor-Clerk-Recorder's office is seeking to modify its documentary transfer tax ordinance to "emulate" what Los Angeles, Monterey, San Diego, Santa Clara and other counties are doing to ferret out unreported changes in ownership.
Formal changes to the county's tax ordinance must be approved by the board following a public hearing.
—City News Service