Real Estate Transfer Tax in Montgomery County, PA

Real Estate Transfer Tax is something everyone in Pennsylvania needs to address.

Whether you’re dealing with commercial or residential real estate purchases or real estate development in Montgomery County, PA, you will inevitably be faced with having to consider whether you are obligated to pay a real estate transfer tax. Here’s what you need to know.

In Pennsylvania, there is a transfer tax imposed by the state as well as the county in which the property is located. In Pennsylvania, there is a 1% transfer tax. Montgomery County imposes an additional 1%, which is comprised of a .50% local tax and a .50% school tax.

Fortunately, Montgomery County’s real estate transfer tax is consistent with most counties throughout the state and not as high as Philadelphia County, which imposes a real estate transfer tax of 3.278%. So, on top of that whopping number, add another 1% from Pennsylvania and you’re paying 4.278% in Philadelphia. 

When it comes to real estate transfer tax, most people only think of the sale of property in exchange for money, however, that is only one type of transfer on which the tax is imposed. In fact, transfer tax can apply to other transactions that involve the change in ownership of real estate by deed or other document, including long term leases.

While Pennsylvania provides exemptions from transfer taxes depending on the purpose or type of transaction and the parties involved, the law may not provide for exemption for all real estate transactions. Unlike Philadelphia, the only exemptions permitted for real estate transactions in Montgomery County are those permitted by state law.

Under Pennsylvania transfer tax law, parties such as the federal, state or local government or its agencies are excluded from being required to pay transfer tax on all transactions. However, if the party to whom the property is being transferred is not an excluded party, that party may in fact be responsible for transfer tax if the transaction itself is not excluded. These may include properties purchased at a judicial or sheriff’s sale or from a state or local government agency.

In addition to transfers to and  from the federal, state or local government or its agencies, Pennsylvania real estate transfer tax law excludes certain transactions from transfer tax. These may include deeds of correction or confirmation, transactions between certain family members, non-profits, corporations, and trusts. I’ll talk more about transfer tax exclusions in an upcoming blog.

For now, it is important to understand that transfer taxes exist in residential and commercial property transactions and that you may need to consult with a real estate attorney to protect your interests.

For more information regarding real estate transfer tax in Montgomery County, contact us about our legal services. We’re one of the top real estate law firms in Norristown. Call 610-275-0700 or email us at info@highswartz.com.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney near you regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

Guardianship Tracking System (GTS) Online Workshops for Spring 2020

The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC) is offering a series of online workshops that educate guardians that are court-appointed on how to navigate the newly-created GTS or Guardianship Tracking System. The GTS allows the guardians of incapacitated adults to file annual reports and inventory online.

The workshops are accessed online and conducted through an application called WebEx. Guardians are welcome to attend any session but registration is required.

Guardianship Workshop Topics:

  • Overview of the Guardianship Tracking System
  • How to log in to the GTS
  • How to Navigate the GTS Dashboard
  • How to submit reports online
  • How to determine the court accepted a report
  • Discussion of additional support for submission to the GTS

Online Schedule

  1. April 8, 2020, 10am
  2. April 24, 1pm
  3. May 4, 9am
  4. May 21, 2pm
  5. June 2, 8am
  6. June 18, 5pm

Registration is completed through WebEx and you must bring your own laptop that has is internet-accessible.

Click Here for Registration Instructions.

What is the SECURE Act?

High Swartz estate planning attorneys down and explains the highlights and how they can affect your retirement plans.

What is the SECURE Act?

The SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) is a bill designed to help Americans improve their ability to save for retirement. Currently, many financial analysts say that America is having a retirement savings crisis. The SECURE act was created to:

Make Retirement Plan Enrollment Easier for Everyone

The SECURE Act can now make it easier for small businesses to set up and enroll employees in 401(k) plans. The government will now provide a max tax credit of $500 per year to employers who open up a 401(k) or SIMPLE IRA plan with auto-enrollment for employees. If employees are enrolled they can now contribute up to 15% of their pay to said plan.

Include Part-Time Employees

Part-time employees are now eligible to sign up for 401(k) plans if they meet the yearly hourly quota of 1,000 hours or 3 consecutive years of 500+ hours. Before, if you worked under 1,000 hours a year, you typically were ineligible to participate. Now, if you work at least 500 hours a year with an employer for at least 3 consecutive years, and are at least 21 years of age by the end of the third consecutive year, you are eligible to participate in your company’s 401(k) plan.

Defer Distributions

The SECURE Act also pushes back the age from 70.5 to 72 to take RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions). If you were born after June 30, 1949, you must begin taking distributions on April 1st following your 72nd birthday. If you were born before June 30, 1949, you are still required to start taking distributions at age 70 ½.

If you have an Eligible Designated Beneficiary, distributions are generally allowed to be paid over the EDB’s life expectancy. An EDB can be your spouse, your child under the age of majority (typically 21, but it could be 18, 21 or 26- The term isn’t defined and PA state law has 3 definitions, which of course are different than the definition under the I.R.C.); a disabled/chronically ill beneficiary or beneficiaries who are less than 10 years younger than the original IRA owner or 401(k) participant. However, this only applies to the current beneficiary. The successor beneficiary of the inherited retirement plan will be subject to the 10-year payout.

If you were born after June 30, 1949, you must begin taking distributions on April 1st following your 72nd birthday. If you die before your required begin date and do not have a designated beneficiary, the rule remains the same and the plan must be withdrawn within 5 years. If you are over 70 ½, working and earning income, now you can still make contributions to your traditional IRA. (Translation, you can keep working well past retirement age.)

Adding a new member of the family

The SECURE Act also can defray the cost of having or adopting a child. It allows penalty-free withdrawals of up to $5,000 (per parent), within one year of birth or final adoption decree, for qualified expenses from 401(k) accounts.

Employers should consult with their tax and legal professionals to find out more about how they are affected by the SECURE Act. The information listed above is only a small portion of the effects seen by the Act.

If you need assistance planning your estate make sure you talk with an estate planning attorney near you in Montgomery or Bucks Counties.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances. The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

PA Act 21: Grandparent Custody and Third-Party Child Custody Law

PA Act 21 expands grandparent custody and third party custody categories and adds to those able to request custody of a child through its courts.

When Act 21 passed into law in Pennsylvania in 2018, it changed how and when grandparent can seek child custody of their grandchildren. Click here for a primer as to what third party custody is.

Act 21 of 2018 expands the categories of people able to request custody of a child through the courts. The full text of Act 21 of 2018 can be found HERE.  Below is a summary of how the act has changed third party custody and grandparent child custody law in Pennsylvania:

Third Party Custody Rights

Since 2011, Pennsylvania law has provided for three specific categories of people who could file for any form of child custody:

  1. a parent;
  2. a grandparent or great-grandparent (if very specific conditions are met); and
  3. a person standing in loco parentis to the child.
  4. Act 21 added a fourth category of people who can file for any form of child custody: Any individual (not just a family member) so long as the child is not part of a dependency proceeding and the following three criteria are proven to the court: (a) the third party individual has assumed or is willing to assume responsibility for the child; (b) the third party individual has a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child, which is based on the nature, quality, extent and length of the involvement by the individual in the child’s life; and (c) neither parent has any form of care and control over the child.

So, why the change? As shown by recent statistics, the opioid epidemic has hit Pennsylvania hard, creating new trends in family structure.  Prior to July 3, 2018, if a child’s parents became suddenly unavailable due to death or otherwise, only a grandparent, or a person already historically assuming a parenting role, could file for custody.  Now, under Pennsylvania’s new law, other relatives or willing third parties may file for child custody so long as they have a sustained, substantial and sincere interest.

Grandparent Partial Child Custody (aka visitation)

Aside from the  right to file for primary physical custody, Pennsylvania law also permits qualifying grandparents the right to request partial physical custody (aka visitation).

The three circumstances where a grandparent can request partial physical child custody are:

  • If the grandchild’s parent is deceased;
  • If the grandchild lived with the grandparents for twelve consecutive months and the grandparents filed their action within six months of when the grandchild was removed from their home; and
  • Where the grandparents’ relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent or under a court order AND where the parents of the child have commenced a proceeding for custody AND the parents do not agree on whether the grandparents should have custody.

Section (3) is totally new with the enactment of Act 21.  Under  Pennsylvania’s old law, section (3) allowed grandparents to file for partial child custody of their grandchildren when the grandchild’s parents had been separated for a period of at least six months or had commenced and continued a proceeding to dissolve their marriage

So, why the change? Let’s say for example that mom and dad spent the past eight years keeping creepy, estranged Grandpa Joe away from their impressionable little Billy.  Under Pennsylvania’s old law, if Billy’s parents were to divorce, it all of a sudden provided creepy Grandpa Joe with the ability to file for partial custody, even if both parents remained adamantly opposed to creepy Grandpa Joe’s presence in Billy’s life.  Seeing this error,  the Pennsylvania Superior Court said that not only was this a bad idea, it was down-right unconstitutional (because it interfered with a parent’s constitutional right to rear their children).   Under the new law, Grandpa Joe would have already have to had a relationship with Little Billy before the  parents’ ‘divorce, and at least one of the parents have to be in favor of Billy and Grandpa Joe’s continued relationship.

Of course, it is important to remember that even though a party may be granted “standing,” meaning the right to file for custody, that’s only the first step.  A grandparent or third party must present evidence, enter testimony and convince the tribunal that awarding the grandparent custody is in the grandchild’s “best interest” (according to the numerous factors set forth in Section 5328 of the Pennsylvania Custody Act).

If you have questions regarding grandparent child custody, please contact us at 610-275-0700. Our family law attorneys have a thorough understanding of the new child custody law and how this law could effect your family.  Contact our local law firm so that we can help you achieve your custody goals.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult a child custody lawyer regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.