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Letter Ruling

Letter Ruling Letter Ruling 92-6: Application of Deeds Excise to Transfers by Government Agency

Date: 11/06/1992
Organization: Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Referenced Sources: Massachusetts General Laws

Sales and Use Tax

November 6, 1992

You request a letter ruling on the application of the Massachusetts Excise on Deeds, Instruments and Writings, G.L. c. 64D, to [an agency of the federal government (the "agency"]. Specifically, you ask whether the excise applies to any deed, instrument or writing to which [the agency] is a party. For the reasons discussed below, we rule that the deeds excise does not apply to any deed, instrument, or writing used to convey realty to which [the agency] is a party.


The Federal Credit Union Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1751 et seq., establishes "in the executive branch of the government an independent agency to be known as [the agency]." 12 U.S.C. § 1752a(a). [The agency] is under the "management" of [the agency] Board ("the Board"). Id. The Chairman of [the agency] Board represents it in its "official relations with other branches of the government." 12 U.S.C. § 1752a(e).

In addition, you state that, [the agency] Board may appoint itself as conservator or liquidating agent of insured credit unions. 12 U.S.C. §§ 1766(b), 1786(h), 1787(a). Acting as conservator or liquidating agent, [the agency] Board succeeds by operation of law to all rights, title, powers and privileges of a credit union and its assets, 12 U.S.C. § 1787(b)(2)(A), and may take over such assets, operate the credit union and perform all functions consistent with the appointment as conservator or liquidating agent. 12 U.S.C. § 1787(b)(2)(B). As liquidating agent, [the agency] Board may sell, enforce collection of and liquidate all assets and property of a credit union, and place the credit union in liquidation and proceed to realize on its assets. 12 U.S.C. §§ 1766(b)(3), 1787(b)(2)(E). [The agency] Board is also authorized generally to carry out its, among other things, acquiring and disposing of, by lease or purchase, real or personal property. 12 U.S.C. § 1766(i)(2).


Massachusetts imposes an excise upon any deed, instrument or writing that grants, assigns, transfers, or otherwise conveys realty. G.L. c. 64D, § 1. The excise applies if, at the time of the transaction, the consideration of the property conveyed exceeds one hundred dollars, excluding any lien or encumbrance existing at the time of conveyance. Id. The excise does not apply, however, to "any instrument or writing given to secure a debt or to any deed, instrument or writing to which the commonwealth, a city or town of the commonwealth, or the United States, or any of their agencies are a party." Id. The excise is paid by the person who "makes or signs the deed, instrument or writing, or for whose benefit the same is made or signed." G.L. c. 64H, § 2.

By statute, [the agency] is made an agency of the United States government. 12 U.S.C. § 1752a(a). The deeds excise is not imposed on the conveyance of realty when a United States agency is a "party" to the transaction. G.L. c. 64D, § 1. Thus, the deeds excise does not apply to any deed, instrument or writing used to convey realty to which [the agency] is a party.


Any deed, instrument or writing used to convey realty is exempt from the imposition of the Massachusetts deeds excise when [the agency] is a party to the transaction due to [the agency's] status as an "agency" of the United States government.

Very truly yours,
Mitchell Adams
Commissioner of Revenue
November 6, 1992
LR 92-6

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