FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ JANUARY 10th, 2024
~ Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office ~
The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office’s Response
to William Bender’s January 10, 2024 Email
On January 10, 2024, our Office received an email from William Bender, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, with the following alleged statements from the Mayor’s Office and the City Revenue Department regarding tax sales:
The mayor’s office sent this in response to my questions: ‘This is wholly a matter for the Sheriff ’s Office. They need to explain what they are — or aren’t – doing with regard to these tax sales.’”
“The Revenue Dept said in a report last month (attached): ‘The lack of Sheriff Sales continues to challenge the City’s delinquent tax collection efforts. Sheriff Sales, a primary tool to collect delinquent Real Estate Taxes, have been paused since March 2020. As a result, delinquency has gradually increased. Without Sheriff Sales, the City cannot place as many delinquent accounts into payment agreements, leading to increases of delinquent accounts.’”
Below is our response:
First, we are unclear what Mayor you’re referring to because the City just transitioned to a new administration. Further, experience has demonstrated that we cannot trust the accuracy of any information you provide to us, and we equally question the accuracy of the quotations stated in your inquiry to our Office. Thus, our response is as follows:
The authority of the Sheriff to administer Sheriff Sales is derived from Title 68 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Tax Law, and the Pennsylvania Code. However, the court ordered writ of execution or decree determines what properties the Sheriff is authorized to sell. More specifically, for tax delinquent sales, the City of Philadelphia is the plaintiff. Therefore, the City must obtain a decree from the court to sell the property due to tax delinquency. The decree orders the Sheriff’s Office to conduct the sale of that property (this is also reflected on the court docket). The attorneys assigned to represent the City in tax delinquent sales must submit documentation to the Sheriff’s Office for the sale to proceed. Plainly stated, the Sheriff’s Office cannot initiate any tax delinquent sales that are not ordered by the court.
Our Office accepts decrees as early as three months prior to a sale. To date, the last decrees we received for tax delinquent sales were March 2020 from the City Law Department, April 2020 from Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP, and February 2020 from GRB Law (the last tax delinquent sale occurred April 2021). Simply put, when the plaintiff provides the Sheriff’s Office with decrees for tax delinquent properties, we will put those properties up for sale.