New Law Requires Every Transaction Conveying Real Property to File a Transfer Return
February 9, 2016

By Margaret Jaberg

WI Senate Bill 279 (SB 279) became law on February 4, 2016 relating to Real Estate Transfer Returns. The new law requires that every transaction that conveys real property in Wisconsin must file a Real Estate Transfer Return even if the conveyance is exempt from the transfer return fee.

Previously, a real estate conveyance was exempt from the real estate transfer fee and filing a return if it met one of five exemptions provided by statute:

  1. The person made the conveyance before October 1, 1969.
  2. The property is conveyed from a government agency.
  3. The property is conveyed to a government agency to construct a road, street, or highway.
  4. The property is sold to pay delinquent taxes.
  5. The property is conveyed by will, descent, or survivorship.

Under the new law, the only exception from filing will be for a transaction with a conveyance date prior to October 1, 1969.

The new law also prohibits any city, village, town, or county from imposing a fee on a conveyance that is exempt from the real estate transfer fee. In Wisconsin, real estate transfer taxes are imposed by the state legislature on the transfer of the title of real property. Wis. Stat. § 77.22 sets a fee of $3.00 per $1,000 of market value being transferred. The recording county retains 20% of the fee and the State gets the remaining 80%. That county revenue is in addition to the uniform recording fee of $30 per document.

All other filing requirements remain the same. A Wisconsin Real Estate Transfer Return must accompany every deed and land contract that is recorded with any Register of Deeds per Wis. Stat. § 77.22(1). Valuation of the property must be shown on all returns, and transfers involving rental property must be accompanied by a certificate of compliance to prove that weatherization standards have been met, or with a stipulation to bring the property up to code.

Since July 1, 2009, all returns must be electronically filed (“eRETR”) with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue per Wis. Stat. § 77.22(2). In 2013 and 2014, 192,460 and 193,395 returns were filed respectively, and 135,882 were recorded in 2015 prior to SB 279’s introduction. These records did not convey title, but are tax documents.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact your Davis & Kuelthau attorney, or the author, Margaret Jaberg, Real Estate Paralegal, at 414.225.1716 /


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