Philly Realty Transfer Tax: What is it and how does it work? | Department of Revenue

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Are you buying, selling, or transferring title to your Philadelphia home to someone else? You probably owe taxes on this transfer of ownership. Each time a property changes hands in Philadelphia, a real estate transfer tax is collected to support the city’s general fund. Here’s a quick reminder to help you avoid surprises at the closing table.

There’s more to buying or selling a home in Philadelphia than paying closing costs, attorney’s fees, or realtor’s commissions. There is also a 3.27% Philadelphia real estate transfer tax to bear, in addition to a 1% Commonwealth tax.

Transfer tax is imposed on the sale price or assessed value of the property, plus any debts (liens or judgments) the seller may have, which the buyer agrees to pay. If no sale has taken place, the Office of Property Assessment (OPA) determines the transfer tax rate.

If you refinance your home and the name does not change on the title, you do not owe transfer tax.

By when is it due?

The real estate transfer tax is usually paid when the new deed is filed with the Department of Records. In general, the tax must be paid within 30 days of the date of the transfer.

Any payment received after this time will incur additional charges. But that’s not all; if Revenue or Archives determines that there has been an attempt to evade this tax, the assessment will include an additional 50% of the tax due.

Paying the City’s property transfer tax is the best way to formalize the transfer of your title deed. The records department will not register your transfer deed or document until you have paid this fee.

Ways to pay

The Archives Department only accepts cash, certified checks or money orders for this fee. You can pay:

  • In person –at the archives department, located at the town hall, room 111, or
  • By email.

To pay by mail, remember to complete and send two copies of the Philadelphia Real Estate Transfer Tax Certificate and one copy of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Transfer Tax Value Declaration Form with your payment to:

Philadelphia City Archives Department
Room 156, Town Hall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107

Exemptions

You do not have to pay real estate transfer tax if the transfer of property is between family members, such as spouses, siblings. But you must submit the appropriate documentation to establish this relationship. You are also exempt from paying this tax if the property is:

  • I wanted you
  • Transferred between religious organizations, or
  • Transferred to a government entity.

Non-profit organizations are NOT exempt from paying real estate transfer tax.

Photo credit: Elenaiwata flickr

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