The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell
At the end of each month we must compile a report showing the amount of “Documentary Stamp Sales” for the preceding month. This is submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. As many of you know, any time you sell real property in this state, the seller is obliged to pay an excise tax calculated at a rate of $4.56 per thousand dollars of the sales price. So, if you sold your house for $100,000, you would pay the state $456 in taxes. The registry collects this money when the document is recorded and affixes a “stamp” to the document showing that the tax has been paid. (Like the documents themselves, the stamps used in years gone by were much more ornate and intricate in appearance than are those of today). As I understand it, this tax is another throw back to Medieval England where the king owned everything. As part of the feudal system, the king granted the use of land to individuals in exchange for services they provided, but upon death, the land reverted to the king. Because these “land users” wanted to keep the same property in the family, the king eventually allowed the “land users” to pass the property on to their heirs, but the king required a payment in return. And so began the deeds excise tax, or at least that’s how I understand it’s origin. Back to the present day. While $4.56 per thousand might not sound like much, it adds up. In the twelve months from Sept 2005 until August 2006, this registry collected a total of $9.8 million in deeds excise tax for an average of $818,064 per month. If my math is correct, this represents the sale in that twelve month period of $2.15 billion worth of real estate.
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