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How to Reverse a Tax Sale of Your Home in Philadelphia


How to Undo a Tax Sale of Your Home in Philadelphia

Homes can be scheduled for tax sales for failure to pay real estate taxes or other municipal liens. How do you get your house back after a Philadelphia tax sale? If your home has been sold at a Philadelphia sheriff sale, you have a number of options to reverse the tax sale.

It is possible in many cases to get your property back after it has been sold at a tax sale, but you must carefully follow all the rules to do so. If you find yourself in need of an IRS negotiation Attorney in Philadelphia, contact the Law Offices of David M. Offen at (215) 625-9600.

Four Ways You Can Reverse the Tax Sale of Your Home

1. Negotiate Directly with the Purchaser of Your Home.

You can contact the person or organization that purchased the property at tax sale and negotiate a buy-back. In some cases, the purchaser will allow you to buy the property back directly from him or her by paying the purchase price plus an additional amount of money to cover costs.

If you elect to negotiate directly with the purchaser, make sure that everything is in writing. Having a bankruptcy attorney with you will both protect your interests and protect you from possibly being defrauded.

2. File a Motion to Redeem the Property.

Under the Pennsylvania Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act, if you have the funds you can go to Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and file a motion to redeem the property.

How does this work? You will pay the amount the property was sold for, any costs that the new owner incurred and an additional 10% interest as well as certain other charges. To have the power to redeem the property you must have lived in the house for at least 90 days prior to the tax sale and continue to have lived in the property after the tax sale, and meet certain other requirements as well. In other words, the rules for redemption do not apply if the property is vacant.

A motion to redeem must be filed prior to the expiration of the nine-month period to redeem from the time of the acknowledgment of the sheriff’s deed.

3. File an Objection to the Tax Sale or a Motion to Set Aside the Tax Sale.

These will do the same thing, procedurally. You can argue that the tax sale must be set aside because you were never given a notice of the sale, or some other procedural deficiency on the part of the sheriff or purchaser. If you win the court could set aside the tax sale.

Be advised that setting aside a tax sale is not a simple matter. If you cannot prove that you were not given proper notice or that the sale was otherwise improper, then the sale will be upheld.  This is usually not an easy standard to meet, but an experienced IRS negotiation attorney can help you.

4. File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case to Redeem the Property Over Time.

You must file your Chapter 13 bankruptcy prior to the expiration of the redemption period. In your Chapter 13 plan, you will redeem your home by paying the amount the property was sold for, any costs that the new owner incurred and an additional 10% as well as certain other charges. You will pay the Chapter 13 Trustee every month, who in turn will pay the purchaser.

You are allowed to include not only the home which was sold at the tax sale, but any other debts that you owe such as credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, income taxes, any mortgage arrears, any arrears on an auto loan, student loans as well as other debts.

How to Avoid Sheriff’s Sale in Philadelphia

The best approach of all of these is to avoid a tax sale in the first place.

How? By dealing with the problem prior to the scheduled sale. You can go into the taxing authority and either 1) pay them up to date if you have the funds or 2) request a repayment plan if you do not have all the funds to pay the tax debt owed on your property.  You can also go to the Court of Common Pleas and formally request a postponement of the sale for good cause.

What to Do If Your Home Was Sold at a Philadelphia Tax Sale

If your home has already been sold, then you can get your home back after a tax sale in Philadelphia by following the above as a guide and consulting with a bankruptcy attorney who is experienced in helping individuals and families getting their home back after a tax sale.

Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney David M. Offen has helped many individuals to get their home back after a tax sale. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation, please call 215-625-9600.

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