In re: Princeton Office Park v. Plymouth Park Tax Services, LLC

In this case, the issue this case posed to the New Jersey Supreme Court was presented by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit: whether, under New Jersey law, a tax sale certificate purchaser holds a tax lien. In 1998, plaintiff Princeton Office Park, L.P. purchased a 220,000 square foot commercial building on thirty-seven acres of land in the Township of Lawrence. Princeton Office Park did not satisfy its real estate tax obligation to the Township of Lawrence. By 2005, Princeton Office Park owed the Township of Lawrence in back taxes and unpaid penalties. The Township conducted a public auction of municipal tax liens. Defendant Plymouth Park Tax Services, LLC bid on a tax sale certificate for Princeton Office Park’s property. As the owner of the tax sale certificate following the public auction, Plymouth Park paid municipal real estate taxes and charges for Princeton Office Park’s property through the second quarter of 2008. By operation of law, Plymouth Park’s additional payments were added to the sum required for Princeton Office Park to redeem the tax sale certificate owned by Plymouth Park. The redemption amount accrued interest at a rate of eighteen percent following the sale. In 2007, Plymouth Park filed a tax lien foreclosure action against Princeton Office Park seeking to enjoin Princeton Office Park from exercising any right of redemption of the certificate, and requesting a declaration that Plymouth Park was the owner in fee simple of the disputed property. The Chancery Division entered an order establishing a deadline by which Princeton Office Park could redeem the certificate. While Plymouth Park’s foreclosure action was pending in the Chancery Division, Princeton Office Park filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. Plymouth Park filed an initial proof of claim in the Bankruptcy Court, citing “taxes” as the basis for its claim. Plymouth Park then objected to Princeton Office Park’s Plan of Reorganization. The United States Bankruptcy Court ruled in favor of Princeton Office Park. The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey affirmed, substantially adopting the reasoning of the United States Bankruptcy Court. The District Court construed the Tax Sale Law to confer on the purchaser of a tax sale certificate a lien, but not a lien that would permit the holder of the certificate to collect unpaid taxes owed to the municipality. Plymouth Park appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The New Jersey Supreme Court answered the Third Circuit's question in the affirmative: the purchaser of a tax sale certificate possesses a tax lien on the encumbered property. View "In re: Princeton Office Park v. Plymouth Park Tax Services, LLC" on Justia Law