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2020 Real Estate Excise Tax Increases

New changes to the real estate excise tax begin on January 1, 2020.  Currently, the King County combined state and county real estate excise tax on sales of real property equals 1.78% for all sales.  Beginning January 1st, a graduated rate is applied to sales of real property (other than timberland or agricultural land) as follows:


Property Sale PriceNew combined REET rate & King County rate
Up to $500,0001.60%
$3,000,001 +3.5%


The new changes also include an expansion of the current 12-month period to a 36-month period for determining whether a transfer of a “controlling interest” has occurred.  When 50% or more of the ownership in an entity owning real property is transferred, the transferor must pay real estate excise tax on the value of the entire property.  Thus, the aggregate transfers of entity interests within a 36-month period may trigger the real estate excise tax, which can come as a surprise.

Please contact us for advice and guidance in navigating these new changes to Washington’s real estate excise tax.

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