Luzerne County Courthouse
200 North River Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
Click here for the Assessor’s Office
* * * * * * *
PLEASE NOTE: The Tax Claim Bureau web pages will be revised in the near future.
To access the Northeast Revenue Services, LLC web site to make a tax payment, click the “Make a Payment“ box below:
* * * * * * *
Welcome to the Luzerne County Tax Claim Bureau.
The Tax Claim Bureau (“Bureau”) was established as a result of the enactment of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Law (Act 542 of 1947). The purpose of Act 542 is to promptly return properties with delinquent real estate taxes to the productive tax rolls.
The municipal taxing bodies (local governments, school districts, etc.) benefit by accelerated collection of delinquent real estate taxes without undue hardship on the property owner. The delinquent tax liability is converted into tax revenue. It is the goal of tax sales to transfer non-taxpaying properties to the current tax roles and into the hands of the responsible taxpayers.
The Bureau receives approximately 17,000 delinquent returns each year. The general activities that take place in the Bureau are collections, tax sales, and distribution of paid taxes. The Bureau also works very closely with all political sub-divisions with taxing authority, as well as, the Assessment Office where initial billings originate.
Procedures for Collecting Taxes
Real Estate tax notices are mailed out by each municipality’s tax collector. If the taxes are not paid by December 31st (of the year the taxes became due and payable), each local tax collector returns all delinquents and uncollectables to the Bureau for further collection.
The Bureau sends out a “Notice of Claim” to notify each property owner with delinquent taxes that a claim has been entered against the property. These notices are generally mailed in the 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 it 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 2nd year after the original tax bill was issued by the local tax collector), the property is advertised for sale.
Under the Pennsylvania Real Estate Tax Sale 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 and avoid the upset sale would be prior to the close of business at the courthouse the day before the sale.
Types of Sales
This is an annual sale that includes properties that have two or more years delinquent taxes. Properties exposed at the Upset Sale are offered together with any mortgages, judgments or non-tax liens. Properties offered are sold at a bid equal to or higher than the amount of outstanding taxes, bureau costs and any municipal liens.
Judicial Sale (Free and Clear)
Properties not sold at the Upset Sale become Judicial Sale eligible. The Bureau has a current owner title search made. 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.
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 negotiate a Private Sale of any property held in the repository.