Real Estate Transfer Taxes

Real Estate Transfer Taxes (RETTs)

0.5% RETT: On May 8, 1978, voters were asked and supported a 0.5% real estate transfer tax for the "purpose of renovation, reconstruction and maintenance of the Wheeler Opera House and for the purpose of supporting the visual and performing arts."  This tax, which was first levied January 1, 1979, was originally adopted with a twenty-year sunset, but has been extended under voter approval through December 31, 2039.  Note - On November 2, 2021, City of Aspen voters were asked and supported expanded use of the 0.5% RETT to include both the arts programming provided at the Red Brick Building and the associated operational and maintenance costs of said building, plus the removal of the previous $100,000 cap on arts grants out of this revenue source.

1.0% RETT: City of Aspen voters additionally approved a 1.0% real estate transfer tax for the purpose of "addressing the issue of the current housing shortage that vacant land and existing buildings must be purchased and renovated and construction of new housing must be commenced immediately" and became effective July 1, 1989.  The application of this tax included a slight reduction to the consideration amount to be taxed, allowing for the first $100,000 to be excluded from taxation, and allowed for all existing affordable deed restricted housing units to be exempt. This tax continues to have a sunset provision in place, and absent an extension by voter approval, it will expire following December 31, 2040.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE: Transfer taxes are the responsibility of the purchasing party.  If the tax is not paid to the City, the City is able to file a lien against the property to ensure eventual collection.  To obtain clear title, purchasing parties should individually or through a title company submit the following documentation for consideration:

  • A completed computation or exemption form that can be found using the links below:
  • The signed and dated deed that will eventually be filed with Pitkin County Clerk and Recorders Office
  • A TD-1000 if the transaction is a for consideration conveyance
  • Any additional documents such as operating agreements, trust documents, death certificates, etc. that may be needed to support exemption requests.

EXEMPTIONS: As denoted in the City Municipal Code, Section 23.48.040, there are instances where the imposition of either real estate transfer tax does not apply.  While the list of exemptions can be more thoroughly outlined in the Code, a paraphrasing of the general allowances are as follows:

  • Any conveyance wherein the US, any agency or instrumentality thereof, the State, County, City, municipality, district or other political subdivision of the State is either the grantor or the grantee;
  • Any conveyance wherein the grantee has been organized, operated and maintained solely and exclusively for charitable or religious purposes;
  • Any conveyance in consequence of a gift of such property, where no consideration other than love and affection, charitable donation or nominal compensation is evidenced;
  • Any document terminating or evidencing termination of joint tenancy except where additional consideration of value is paid in connection with such termination;
  • Any transfer of title or change of interest by reason of death, will or decree of distribution;
  • Transfers made pursuant to mergers or consolidation of corporations for no consideration other than cancellation or surrender of the subsidiary's stock;
  • And conveyance made and delivered without consideration for the purpose of confirming, correcting, modifying or supplementing a transfer previously recorded;
  • Any decree or order of the court of record determining the resting title;
  • Any deed granting or conveying title to cemetery lots;
  • Any lease of any real property (or assignment or transfer of any interest in any such lease) provided such lease by its terms does not constitute a de facto conveyance of the subject property;
  • Any mineral deed or royalty deed;
  • Transfers to secure a debt or other obligation, or transfers or release of property which is security for a debt or other obligation;
  • Any executory contract for the sale of real property under which the vendee is entitled to or does take possession thereof without acquiring title thereto, or any assignment or cancellation of any such contract;
  • Any deed or conveyance under execution, sale, or foreclosure sale under a power sale or court decree of lien foreclosure; sheriff's deed; public trustee deed or treasurer's deed or deed in lieu of foreclosure provided that the person holding the obligation or instrument upon which the proceeding or sale is based intends, as market conditions will allow, to resell the property in order to satisfy the obligation. If the property is not sold within two (2) years, or within any extension of such time beyond two (2) years as the Finance Director shall allow for good cause shown, then the transfer shall be considered an "artifice" as provided for in this Chapter and taxable as provided for in this Chapter. The Finance Director may place a lien on the subject property equal to the amount of tax that may be levied or other form of security acceptable to the Finance Director.