The Tax Claim Bureau is the collector of delinquent property taxes. Delinquent property taxes are returned to the bureau on or before January 31 for the prior calendar year. Beginning February 1 the tax claim begins to accrue interest at an annual rate of 9 percent. The bureau, through a Reminder Notice and a Return and Claim Notice, contacts the taxpayers to make arrangements for payment. If the unpaid taxes are delinquent for two (2) years the property owner is sent a Tax Sale Notice and the property is posted by a constable or sheriff deputy in accordance with the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Act 542 of 1947 as amended). The bureau has legal jurisdiction to sell tax delinquent property and the bureau conducts various type sales.
The first sale, which occurs in September after the second Monday but prior to the last day of September is the Upset Tax Sale. This sale is announced in two (2) newspapers of general circulation and in the Lackawanna County Jurist at least thirty (30) days prior to the sale. This tax sale is for unpaid taxes and is not a free and clear sale. All potential buyers must register in advance of the sale to assure there is no outstanding tax due on their property.
If a property is not sold at an Upset Sale, then it may be sold at a Private Sale from the county’s Non- Repository List. In the Private Sale process, a property can be sold at any price approved by the bureau and the pertinent taxing districts where the property is located. A Private Sale, like the Upset Tax Sale is not a free and clear sale.
If a property is not sold at Private Sale by November of the same year as the Upset Sale, the property is then prepared for a Judicial Sale. Judicial Sales are conducted in February of the year following the Upset Tax Sale. A property search is completed; owners and lien holders are given notice of the Judicial Sales; and the court is petitioned to ask that the property be sold free and clear of all liens, judgments, mortgages and encumbrances, except ground rents taxed separately.
All properties not sold at the Judicial Sale after exposure to an Upset Tax Sale and Private Sale are placed in a repository for unsold property also known as the Repository List. The bureau must maintain this list and make it available to the general public. The Bureau may accept offers on these properties without court approval and published notice of the sale.
PLEASE BE ADVISED THE BUREAU ADHERES TO ACT 133 (PL 1368). ALL PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS MUST SUBMIT A CERTIFICATION OF BIDDER FORM SIGNED BY EACH PURCHASER. SECTION 619.1 OF THE REAL ESTATE TAX SALE LAW IS RELEVANT IN THIS MATTER. IF THE LACKAWANNA COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU FINDS THAT DELINQUENT TAXES ARE DUE FROM THE PURCHASER, NO DEED WILL BE ISSUED UNTIL ALL TAXES ARE PAID IN FULL. THE LACKAWANNA COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU ALSO RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DISQUALIFY ANY BIDDER FROM THE PROCESS PRIOR TO THE SALE DATE FOR UNPAID TAXES.
Resources and Links
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Deputy Director for Tax Claims
135 Jefferson Ave
Scranton, PA 18503