Realty Transfer Tax is due when you present the sale document for recording.
For transfers, the tax must be paid within 30 days after the real estate is acquired.
of the sale price or assessed value of the property, plus any assumed debt
Who pays the tax
The Realty Transfer Tax applies to the sale or transfer of real estate located in Philadelphia. The tax becomes payable when a property deed (or other document showing realty ownership) is filed with the Records Department. Documents showing ownership include:
- Long-term leases (30 or more years)
- Life estates
- Entity transfers
- Transfers of interest in real estate company (where transfer is 75% or more)
The tax is usually split evenly between the buyer and the seller, but this is not a legal requirement. The City has the right to collect 100% of the tax from either party, so it’s in the best interest of the buyer to make sure the tax is paid in full at the closing of the sale.
You should pay Realty Transfer Tax at the time the sale document is presented for recording. Payment is required within 30 days after receipt by the Records Department.
Tax rates, penalties, & fees
How much is it?
The current rates for the Realty Transfer Tax are:
3.278% (City) + 1% (Commonwealth) = 4.278% (Total)
The tax rate is based on the sale price or assessed value of the property, plus any assumed debt. If no sales price exists, the tax is calculated using a formula based on the property value determined by the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).
What happens if you don't pay on time?
You may be responsible for penalties up to 50% of the tax due if you misrepresent your real estate transaction or fail to record the transaction with the Records Department.
For more information about interest and penalty rates, visit the interest, penalties, and fees page.
Discounts & exemptions
Are you eligible for a discount?
No discounts are available for the Realty Transfer Tax.
Can you be excused from paying the tax?
Most real estate transfers between family members are exempt from this tax, such as transfers between:
- Direct ascendants and descendants (grandparents to grandchildren, parents to children, etc.)
- Siblings (including legally adopted and half siblings)
Spouses of these types of family members are also exempt from paying the tax. All family exemptions require documentation.
Properties transferred under a will are also exempt, but properties purchased from an estate are not. For example, when a property is willed to multiple parties and then sold to one party, tax is due.
How to pay
Pay in person
You can pay the Realty Transfer Tax in person when you file the deed with the Records Department in City Hall (Room 111). The Records Department only accepts cash, certified checks, or money orders for this tax.
Pay by mail
To pay the Realty Transfer Tax by mail, you’ll need to download and complete the necessary forms and include certified checks for each of the different fees.
- One to the Recorder of Deeds for $256.75;
- One to the City for 3.278% of the sale price (plus any assumed debt); and
- One to the Commonwealth for 1% of the sale price (plus any assumed debt).