Luzerne County back-tax auctions nearing

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - [email protected]
Luzerne County Courthouse -

Hundreds of Luzerne County property owners are expected to pay delinquent real estate taxes this week to avoid Thursday’s main annual first-stage auction.

As of Friday afternoon, 1,480 parcels were eligible for the sale, said Sean Shamany, of county tax-claim operator Northeast Revenue Service LLC.

The sale list originally started at 2,545 properties, which means about 1,065 owners have paid to date, he said.

Last year, 2,400 properties were on the initial September sale eligibility list. On auction day, the list was down to 661, records show.

Properties become eligible for auction if taxes have gone unpaid for two years.

To prevent auctioning, owners can pay the portion of taxes dating back two or more years — in this sale everything owed through 2016.

Owners also can avoid the sale by complying with a repayment plan, filing for bankruptcy or convincing a judge that temporary removal from the list is warranted.

Repayment agreements require at least 25 percent of the total delinquent amount down with the remainder of the debt paid off within a year. The law also forbids new payment plans within three years if owners default on prior agreements.

Known as an “upset sale,” Thursday’s auction sets minimum bids at a dollar amount that covers all back real estate taxes, unpaid 2018 taxes and realty transfer tax. Buyers also must accept responsibility for any outstanding mortgages and liens.

The auction roster includes a mix of residential and commercial structures and vacant tracts.

Properties that don’t sell at the September auction advance to a more popular free-and-clear sale in 2019, when all liens and delinquent taxes are forgiven unless bidding competition drives up the purchase price to cover some or all of that debt.

October auction

Northeast Revenue also is gearing up for a special Oct. 25 auction listing properties that were held from prior sales due to court orders or issues notifying all parties with an interest in the properties.

This sale will include both a free-and-clear and upset auction.

The Oct. 25 free-and-clear list will appear in today’s Times Leader classified section and online at www.timesleader.com and Northeast Revenue’s site at www.luzernecountytaxclaim.com.

As of Friday, the list included several commercial and industrial properties that have been lingering in delinquency for years, according to records:

• An industrial print shop on Foote Avenue in Duryea owned by T P Corporation, which stopped paying taxes in 2006.

The 1-acre property had escaped auctioning due to a bankruptcy and government cleanup of severe environmental issues discovered at the site, officials have said.

Bids start at $9,478.

• A 56,000-square-foot former manufacturing building on Oregon Street in Wilkes-Barre owned by members of the Rockman family that carries a delinquency dating back to 2005.

The 2.4-acre property was removed from prior sales due to two bankruptcies, two court actions and two repayment plans that were not honored, according to county officials.

Bids start at $8,158.

• A manufacturing building at 55 W. Seventh St. in Wyoming owned by JPM Realty, which has racked up unpaid taxes dating back to 1996.

The 2.33-acre property, which most recently housed a cabinet and counter business, was pulled from sales due to two bankruptcies, officials said.

Bids start at $3,020.

The list for the upset portion of the Oct. 25 sale isn’t known yet because it will be based on the properties continued from Thursday’s auction, Shamany said.

Both Thursday’s sale and the Oct. 25 auction begin at 10 a.m. in the auxiliary gym at the King’s College Scandlon Physical Education Center, 150 North Main St., Wilkes-Barre.

Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_luzcocourthouse01-11.jpgLuzerne County Courthouse

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

[email protected]

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.