Alabama Real Estate Transfer Taxes: An In-Depth Guide for 2021

By 

Jamie Ayers

Updated 

February 17th, 2021

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Alabama real estate transfer taxes are a natural part of the buying and selling process. You may be wondering how much this tax will be, who pays for it, and whether you can deduct this tax from your annual income taxes. This guide answers these questions for Alabama home buyers and sellers.

When you're buying or selling a home in Alabama, the term “real estate transfer taxes” will likely come up during the closing process. Imposed by the state and/or local government, this tax is a fee paid as part of the closing costs that will transfer the home from the seller to the buyer.

But who pays this tax, how much is it, and can this tax be deducted from your annual income tax report?

This guide covers what buyers and sellers need to know about Alabama real estate transfer taxes so you can prepare your finances and avoid legal trouble.

Who Pays Transfer Taxes in Alabama: the Buyer or the Seller?

The real estate transfer tax is paid to a local or state agency to transfer real property from one owner to another. The buyer cannot take ownership of the property until the transfer tax has been paid.

In Alabama, the transfer tax is usually paid by the buyer. However, the buyer can negotiate with the seller to shift responsibility for this fee as part of the sales agreement.

In slow markets or in situations when a seller wants to sell their home quickly, they may agree to pay the transfer tax to secure a buyer.

How Much Are Transfer Taxes in Alabama?

In Alabama, the real estate transfer tax rate is $0.50 per $500 of the purchase price, or 0.1% and officially records the transfer of the deed. The exact amount owed for your transaction will depend on how much your home sells for.

For example, the median home sale price in Alabama is $144,000, which means the real estate transfer tax amount would equal $144.00.

If you're an Alabama buyer taking out a mortgage to finance your home purchase, you'll also have an additional mortgage recording fee of $0.15 per $100. In this case, expect to pay a total of 0.25% per $100 in taxes and recording fees. 

Can You Deduct Transfer Taxes?

Unlike property taxes, you cannot deduct real estate transfer taxes from your annual income taxes. However, the seller may be able to include this amount in the “cost basis” of the property, which can help defer capital gains taxes.

When you sell your home for more than what you paid for it, you could be subjected to paying capital gains tax. Capital gain is calculated by subtracting the sale price from the price it cost you to acquire the property. For example, if you purchased a home for $150,000 and sell it for $200,000, your capital gain would be $50,000. However, if you paid the $200 transfer tax instead of the buyer, your capital gain becomes $49,800 instead.

Most home sales in Alabama will have no capital gains to claim. Individuals can exempt the first $250,000 in profit, while married couples filing jointly can deduct the first $500,000 of their profit. With a median home value far below these levels, in most cases, you won't need to worry about deductions in the first place. In the rare instance that it does, the transfer tax deduction can come in handy. 

Other Considerations

The good news for buyers and sellers is that neither party has to figure out real estate transfer taxes on their own. The closing attorney will calculate this amount for you and include it as part of the closing costs on the settlement sheet. The transfer tax must be paid at the time of the closing in order for the new homeowner to take possession.

That said, responsibilities for ambiguous tax payments can be complicated. Buyers and sellers alike can benefit from partnering with an experienced local real estate agent who can help them navigate the complexities of the real estate transfer tax and other closing costs in Alabama.

Find a top-rated local agent near you to take the guesswork out of buying or selling your Alabama home.

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