Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tax Stamp procedures

Massachusetts law imposes an excise tax on the sale of real estate.  The tax is based on the sales price of the property and is assessed at the rate of $2.58 per $500 of consideration.  The seller is liable for the tax which is collected by the registry of deeds upon the recording of the new deed.  Recently someone from a registry that uses a computer system different than ours (which is the ACS system), me to describe the tax stamp mechanics of our system.  Here's how I responded:

We use the ACS system for recorded land, registered land, and as our electronic recording interface with the rest of the world (although me receive efiles from multiple vendors).  All phases of the ACS system require the person inputting the data (registry clerks or customers efiling) to enter the amount of consideration any time DEED is selected as a document type.  Based on the amount of consideration entered, the system automatically calculates the tax due.  From this point on, recorded land and registered land work one way and efiling works another.

First, recorded & registered land.  When we have completed data entry at the recording counter and have collected the fees and taxes due from the customer, we "save" the transaction which prompts the ACS system to print a 1" x 3" label that contains (for recorded land) the document number, the book and page, the number of pages in the document and the date/time of recording. For registered land documents, that label contains the document number, the certificate number with which the document is affiliated, the book and page of that certificate and the date/time of recording.

Whenever a tax stamp is required, the ACS system automatically prints a second label for the transaction.  This label contains the name and DOR code for this registry (Middlesex North #14001), the date time of issuance, a DOR control number that's automatically assigned by the ACS system, the document number of the document with which the tax stamp is affiliated, the amount of the tax stamp ("Fee") and the consideration stated on the deed ("Cons").

Electronic recording uses a slightly different system, mostly because with electronic recording, we have no tangible document to which we can affix one of our labels.  Instead, we had the ACS technicians alter the system to print the recording information and tax stamp (where applicable) directly on the document.  When we began electronic recording way back in 2005, there was less flexibility as to where that information could be printed.  Because we do not have strict document formatting standards which results in unpredictable margins, I chose to use a cover sheet with electronic recording.  The ACS system automatically inserts this cover sheet at the start of an electronically filed document.  The ACS system prints on this cover sheet all recording information and all tax stamp information (when applicable). 

Regarding the electronic recording cover sheet, I'm not sure that any other registry uses it with their electronic recordings.  I like it because it clearly distinguishes an electronically recorded document from all the others. 

A few final notes.  There is no electronic recording with registered land documents.  We do not number the individual pages of a document; we just state at the beginning how many pages the document has and put that on the first page.  We do not have any type of "end of document" imprint or insert my signature onto every document.

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