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Los Angeles ULA Tax



In April 2023, Measure ULA, or the Homelessness and Housing Solutions Tax, went into effect in Los Angeles. Prior to its implementation, a panic to sell mansions ensued.

As we reflect on the significance of the right to healthcare and housing, it is essential to recognize that certain policies and regulations can have an impact on individuals’ ability to access and maintain these basic human rights. The recent introduction of the ULA tax in Los Angeles has sparked discussions regarding its potential effects on property ownership and investment in the city.

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As the deadline for the mansion tax approaches in January 2023, homeowners are started to feel increasingly anxious, and some were choosing to list their mansions for sale with incentives in anticipation of the tax. According to a report by Inside Edition, one Los Angeles real estate agent is offering a luxury vehicle as an incentive to entice buyers to purchase a property before the tax goes into effect.

What is ULA?

The ULA tax, also known as the Homelessness and Housing Solutions Tax or United to House LA, is a measure approved by Los Angeles voters to generate funding for housing and services to address homelessness in the city. The tax imposes an additional levy on high-value properties sold in Los Angeles, with a 4% tax rate on properties selling for $5 million or more and a 5.5% rate for properties selling for $10 million or more. The tax went into effect on April 1st, 2023.

To further elaborate, the ULA tax applies only when a high-value property is sold in Los Angeles. The tax is a one-time levy based on the sale price of the property, not the original purchase price. The tax does not consider any loss on the property, and the rates vary depending on the sale price. There is no annual ULA tax on properties.

The proposed tax would apply to commercial real estate transactions as well, including but not limited to apartment buildings, office towers, malls, warehouses, and facilities involved in the storage and transportation of goods.

Homelessness in Los Angeles

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Skid Row is a neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles known for its high concentration of homelessness and poverty. An estimated 4,700 people experience homelessness on any given night in the Skid Row area, with many individuals struggling with mental illness, addiction, or physical disabilities. Despite ongoing efforts to address the issue, the situation remains a persistent challenge.

While Skid Row is one of the most visible areas with a high concentration of homelessness, there are other neighborhoods and communities throughout Los Angeles where people are experiencing homelessness. Homeless encampments have become more visible in many parts of Los Angeles, and the city has implemented various initiatives and programs to address homelessness, such as providing shelter and housing, mental health services, and job training. However, the problem remains complex and challenging, and it will require ongoing collaboration between community organizations, local government, and the public to find lasting solutions.

Is the ULA Tax Fair?

Taxing the rich and real estate business can be one component of a broader strategy to address homelessness, but it should be considered in conjunction with other solutions and implemented thoughtfully to ensure its effectiveness and fairness.

Taxing The Rich

Taxing the rich is one potential solution for generating revenue to fund housing and services to address homelessness, but it is not a standalone solution. The issue of homelessness is complex and requires a multifaceted approach that involves not only funding but also policy changes, community engagement, and social support services.

Taxing the rich may be a fair and effective way to generate additional revenue for homeless services and affordable housing. However, it’s essential to ensure that the tax is designed in a way that does not disproportionately impact middle and lower-income families or negatively affect the local economy.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to ensure that the revenue generated from the tax is allocated effectively towards addressing homelessness and housing insecurity. This requires efficient and effective government management and community involvement to ensure that resources are directed towards proven programs and initiatives that can make a meaningful impact.

Taxing Real Estate Businesses

The fairness of the ULA tax on businesses is a matter of perspective and subject to debate. Some argue that the tax places an unfair burden on businesses, particularly those in the real estate industry, and could discourage investment in Los Angeles.

Others argue that the tax is a necessary measure to generate revenue for the city and address issues such as homelessness and affordable housing. Ultimately, the impact of the ULA tax on businesses will depend on various factors, such as the size and nature of the business, the value of the property, and the prevailing market conditions.

Sparking Debate and Heated Discussion

An article in L.A. Business Journal written on Jan 9, 2023 by Michael Aushenker, stated that ULA is Misleading ‘mansion tax’.

The first paragraph of the section titled “Misleading ‘mansion tax’“ states that according to Yukelson, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Apartment Association, that “It was sold as a Robin Hood measure. Rob from the rich, give to the poor”.

On the 4th paragraph of the same section, Yukelson also mentions that “It’s going to discourage (developers) from investing in Los Angeles.”  

Yukelson’s statement highlights the potential negative impact of the ULA tax on the city’s real estate market. By imposing additional taxes on high-value property sales, developers may become more hesitant to invest in Los Angeles, which could have significant consequences for the city’s economic growth and development. This could result in a slowdown in construction and development projects, which may ultimately lead to a decrease in job opportunities and housing availability. It remains to be seen how the ULA tax will impact the city in the long term, but there is no doubt that it has sparked a lot of discussion and debate among stakeholders in the real estate industry.

Top Tweets

The tweet with the most likes (30K+) by @hasanthehun was a response to an original tweet by Adam Conover, a Standup comic and TV host.

A NY Times Article by Debra Kamin with the most replies.

HODL or Sell?

The ULA tax may result in property owners holding onto their properties for longer periods since selling at a profit could be more challenging due to the tax. Alternatively, some owners may choose to sell their properties sooner to avoid the tax if they predict a decline in property values.

In addition to potential effects on property holding and selling, some owners may sell their properties to avoid crossing into the next tax bracket and paying a higher rate of 5.5%. However, it’s essential to consider that the ULA tax is a one-time levy and only applies when the property is sold. Thus, owners need to weigh the potential savings against the costs of selling their property, such as transaction fees and the possibility of the property value rising in the future. Furthermore, some property owners may be willing to pay the higher tax rate to continue owning their valuable property in Los Angeles.

It remains uncertain whether the tax will encourage wealthy individuals to purchase mansions in Los Angeles. While the tax may increase the cost of acquiring high-value properties, the attraction of investing in a strong real estate market in a desirable location could still draw the wealthy to the city.

Ultimately, the impact of the ULA tax on the real estate market and the behavior of property owners will depend on a variety of factors and cannot be predicted with certainty.

Will other cities follow suit if the ULA program is a success?

It is possible that other cities may follow suit if the ULA program is successful in addressing homelessness and providing affordable housing in Los Angeles. Homelessness is a widespread issue in many cities across the United States, and there is a growing recognition of the need for innovative solutions to address the problem.

If the ULA program proves effective in reducing homelessness and increasing affordable housing in Los Angeles, other cities may be motivated to adopt similar measures to address the issue in their own communities. However, the success of such programs will depend on a variety of factors, including the availability of funding, community support, and the ability of local government and community organizations to work together effectively.

Some examples of cities with large homeless populations include New York City, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. These cities have already implemented a range of initiatives and programs to address homelessness, but the problem remains widespread and persistent.

In Conclusion

The proposed ULA tax in Los Angeles has the potential to impact the city’s real estate market in various ways. While it may discourage property development and reduce investment due to the potential financial burden on property owners, it could also generate much-needed revenue for the city. The ULA tax is a one-time levy based on the sale price of the property and is not applicable annually.

Property owners may consider holding onto their properties for longer periods or selling sooner to avoid the tax, depending on their perception of the market. It remains to be seen whether the tax will encourage or discourage the wealthy from purchasing high-value properties in Los Angeles, but the city’s desirable location and strong real estate market may continue to attract investors despite the tax.

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