The purpose of the Tax Claim Bureau is to promptly return properties with delinquent real estate taxes to the productive tax rolls under Pennsylvania Real Estate Law (Act 542 of 1947)
Procedures for collecting taxes
Each year, Real Estate and School tax notices are mailed out by the Assessment Office and the School District and then collected upon by the local Tax Collector. If the taxes are not paid by December 31st of each calendar year the tax immediately becomes due and payable. Local Tax collectors compile and submits a list to the Tax Claim Bureau all delinquent and uncollectible tax notices for further collection.
Once this list is received, the Tax Claim Bureau sends out a "Notice of Claim" to notify each property owner with delinquent taxes that a claim has been entered against the property. Notices are generally mailed the following spring of the year after the tax was due. The tax claim becomes "absolute" if it is not paid by December 31st of the year is was turned over to the Bureau.
The property owner then receives notice that the property will be advertised, posted, and sold. If the tax due is not paid by July 1st of the second year after the original tax bill was issued by the tax collector, the property is advertised for sale.
Under Pennsylvania Real Estate Tax Act ("Act") the upset sale is held. If the properties are not sold at the upset sale, they are then listed to be sold at a judicial sale.
The last opportunity for the taxpayer to pay the taxes due at the courthouse and avoid the upset sale would be prior to the close of business the day before the sale.
TYPES OF TAX SALES
UPSET SALE - This is an annual sale that includes properties that have two or more years of delinquent taxes owed. Properties exposed at the Upset Sale are offered at a bid equal to or higher than the amount of outstanding taxes, plus mortgages, judgments, non-tax liens, bureau costs, and any municipal liens. The winning bidder is responsible for all of the aforementioned burden.
JUDICIAL SALE - Propertied not sold at the Upset Sale become Judicial Sale eligible. Once a property becomes eligible for the Judicial Sale, the Bureau orders a current owner title search on the property. All known holders of mortgages, judgments or liens are notified that by order of the Court of Common Pleas, the property will be offered for sale divested of such mortgages, judgments or liens. Certain lien items (e.g. ground rents) survive the judicial sale under the Act and are the responsibility of the winning bidder.
REPOSITORY SALE - Properties not sold at a Judicial Sale are placed in a "Repository" status. This in effect is a bank of unsold properties. The Bureau may take bids or negotiate a Private Sale of any property held in the repository.
Detailed information related to each type of sale can be found under the "Tax Sale Information" menu item above.