Our Doylestown Law Office Welcomes Paralegal Jennifer Gisondi

The firm is pleased to welcome paralegal Jennifer Gisondi to our Doylestown law office. She will be working in our Family law practice group.

Jen joins us after spending 20 years with the County of Bucks in the Domestic Relations Section. She started as a customer service rep and quickly became a Domestic Relations Officer. There, she established and managed an assigned caseload of support matters, both child and spousal. Jen would also make financial adjustments to support accounts and prepare calculations based upon PA State Child Support guidelines.

Jen’s is no stranger to being in front of clients and judges in court. She had daily in-person and virtual conferences with her clients, managed court proceedings, addressed and enforced bench warrants, support obligations, and paternity.

You can contact our family law group by emailing info@highswartz.com, filling out a contact form, or calling 610-275-0700.


Philadelphia Transfer Tax Update for 2022

If you're dealing with commercial, residential, or real estate development, you need to be aware of Philadelphia transfer tax.

Post Updated: 10.24.22

In Pennsylvania, the state and the county impose a real estate transfer tax based on the property's location. So, it's essential to familiarize yourself with Philadelphia's transfer tax if you're looking to transfer property there. Typically, the buyer and seller split the tax burden and pay it after filing with the Record of Deeds Department.

You must pay that tax within 30 days of the transfer date. Otherwise, you'll incur additional charges. Equally important, if the Departments of Records or the Department of Revenue determines you attempt to bypass the tax, the tax assessment increases an extra 50% of the tax due.

Philadelphia's Transfer Tax is Among the Highest in Pennsylvania

The Commonwealth imposes a 1% transfer tax on the value of the real estate. However, Philadelphia imposes an additional 3.278% tax on the value of the deeded real estate for a combined rate of 4.278%. As a result, Philadelphia's real estate transfer tax is among the highest in Pennsylvania.

By comparison, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania's transfer tax is only 1%. So, if you're looking to transfer property in the Philly area, you might want to start by talking with a real estate lawyer to make sure you're covered.

Percentage of Ownership Change Triggering the Transfer Tax

An ownership change of 75% or more triggers the transfer tax in Philadelphia. The county bases the tax on actual consideration paid, which includes any liens or encumbrances on the real estate.

It's important to note that the transfer tax applies not only to selling a property but also to changes in ownership in real estate by deed or other legal documents, including long-term leases.

You can get more details by visiting the City of Philadelphia's website.

Exemptions from the Philadelphia Real Estate Transfer Tax

Pennsylvania and Philadelphia provide exemptions from transfer taxes depending on the purpose and type of transaction and the parties involved.

However, the law may vary between Pennsylvania and the county. As a result, the Commonwealth may exclude some transactions from the transfer tax, while Philadelphia may not. So, it makes sense to talk with a real estate attorney familiar with the laws of each sector.

For instance, Pennsylvania's real estate transfer tax law excludes transfers between a stepparent and a step-child (including a step-child's spouse). But, on the other hand, Philadelphia's transfer tax doesn't.

Philadelphia transfer tax law excludes 28 transactions, while Pennsylvania transfer tax law excludes 34 transactions.

Common exclusions include:

  • transfers to an excluded party by gift or dedication
  • confirmation deeds
  • correctional deeds
  • transfers between certain relatives and specific nonprofits
  • transfers of co-op interest

However, such transactions must also meet specific requirements.

The Government is Excluded from Transfer Tax

Pennsylvania and Philadelphia transfer tax laws exclude the federal, state, or local government or its agencies from tax for all transactions.

However, at times the party receiving the transfer may not be excluded, making them responsible for the transfer tax. For example, properties purchased at a sheriff's sale or from a state or local government agency.

Family Member Exclusions to the Tax

Pennsylvania and Philadelphia exclude tax transfer costs with transactions between certain family members, including:

  • Parent and child (including child's spouse)
  • Grandparent and grandchild (including the grandchild's spouse)
  • Siblings (including the sibling's spouse)
  • Husband and wife
  • Divorced spouses

None of these relationships include transfers between uncles/aunts, nieces/nephews, or cousins. In addition, although the tax transfer law excludes transfers between spouses, the transfer must be under a divorce decree.

Philadelphia explicitly excludes transfers between life partners that meet the requirements of a life partnership under the Philadelphia Code from real estate transfer tax.

However, while the Pennsylvania real estate transfer tax law does not explicitly list life partners, the law protects same-sex marriages under the definition of husband and wife.

Nonprofit Housing Exemptions from Transfer Tax

To support affordable housing and nonprofits, Philadelphia offers specific exemptions for transfers involving nonprofit housing corporations incorporated by the City.

For example, Philadelphia excludes the imposition of real estate transfer tax on both parties when a party transfers to a nonprofit housing corporation, such as the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

In addition, the real estate transfer tax excludes transfers to and from nonprofit housing organizations that renovate properties and subsequently transfer the property to a person meeting specific income requirements.

However, the transfer cannot be to a for-profit entity or a person failing to qualify as having a low-to-moderate income.

These exclusions may be significant to real estate developers and nonprofit entities seeking to develop within Philadelphia.

Exemptions for Religious Organizations

Generally, the Philadelphia transfer tax excludes religious organizations and other nonprofit corporations. However, the exemption applies if the transferor has not used the property commercially.

Confirmation Deed Exclusions

Philadelphia and Pennsylvania transfer tax laws exclude confirmation deeds. However, the deed must be made without consideration, previously recorded, and intended for the sole purpose of confirming an ownership interest in a property.

A typical example includes a deed to confirm a party's ownership interest in a property held as a joint tenant with the right of survivorship with a party that has since deceased.

Similarly, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania laws exclude correctional deeds from real estate transfer tax if done solely to correct an error regarding the description of the parties or the property.

For tax exclusion, the corrective deed must:

  1. Convey the same property interest as in the original deed
  2. The parties must have treated the property interest expressed in the correctional deeds as that of the grantee
  3. The parties, at no time since the original act, treated the property interest described in the original deed as that of the grantee.

Talk to an Experienced Real Estate Attorney

It's essential to understand that transfer taxes exist in residential and commercial property transactions. So, you may need to consult a real estate attorney near you to protect your interests. In addition, High Swartz offers various legal services to help clients with almost any legal issue, from real estate and business law to estate planning and family law.

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

High Swartz LLP has been named a Tier 1 National Law firm for Land Use & Zoning Law by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" in 2023

High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce it has received another "Best Law Firm" nod and has also been named a Tier 1 Philadelphia Area “Best Law Firm” in six practice areas.

Of note is the rise of the firm's Real Estate Litigation ranking from National Tier 3 in 2022 to National Tier 2 in 2023. Real Estate Litigation also rose from a Metropolitan Philadelphia Tier 2 to Tier 1. To achieve a "Best Law Firm" ranking, a firm must have at least one lawyer included on The Best Lawyers in America© list. For 2023, 16 High Swartz attorneys were listed in the 2023 editions of The Best Lawyers in America® and the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America.

The "Best Law Firms" rankings are based on a combination of client feedback, information provided on the Law Firm Survey, the Law Firm Leaders Survey, and Best Lawyers peer review.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. More than 116,000 industry leading lawyers are eligible to vote (from around the world), and we have received more than 17 million evaluations on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world.

For the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®, more than 12.2 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 71,000 leading lawyers honored in the new edition.

"Law Firm of the Year" awards recognize a single top firm for its work in a specific legal practice area nationwide. Awards are determined based on a handful of factors including lawyer feedback, the number of lawyers included in Best Lawyers® for that firm and practice area, the number of office locations a firm has, historical analysis of the firm’s "Lawyer of the Year" awards, materials submitted by firms and the firm’s overall scope and areas of expertise.

When you're looking for attorneys near you in the Greater Philadelphia, Bucks County, and Montgomery County areas, get in touch with our law office. National and local resources consistently cite our law firm and its lawyers and attorneys. Talk to best -- High Swartz.