California’s Documentary Transfer Tax Act (Rev. & Tax. Code §§ 11901, et seq.) is based upon the former federal Documentary Stamp Tax Act first enacted by Congress to raise revenues for the Spanish-American War.  The federal law was repealed, effective Jan. 1, 1968, and simultaneously California, like many other states, picked up the tax with conforming legislation authorizing counties and cities to adopt their own documentary stamp tax on transferring of interests in real property.  This means that in California, in most situations, there are three levels of code related to any imposition of tax:  state, county, and city.

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