Woman Loses Her Home Over a $6 Tax Bill

A judge upholds the sale of a Pennsylvania home after a widow failed to pay overdue interest on a tax bill.

Imagine losing your home over $6.30 in unpaid interest. That’s the harsh reality for a Pennsylvania woman whose $280,000 house in Aliquippa was reportedly sold at a tax auction for $116,000.

According to The Associated Press, a Pennsylvania judge recently upheld the 2011 tax sale of Eileen Battisti’s house, which she bought with her husband in 1999.

After her husband died five years later, she used his life insurance to pay off the mortgage, Forbes said. But Battisti had trouble keeping up with other bills, including the property taxes owed on the house.

In 2008, she was six days late paying her property taxes. She ended up paying the $833.88 due, plus the penalties and fees, but she didn’t pay the $6.30 in accrued interest.

In her defense, she may not have known about the interest, as it was not yet included on the tax bill for late payment, Forbes said.

That $6.30 in unpaid interest ballooned to $255.84 by 2011, and Beaver County sold her house at a tax auction.

Battisti claims she had no notice of the debt or the auction. She also said she was unaware that she had a delinquent tax bill from 2008, according to Forbes.

The county claims, however, that Battisti was notified of the delinquency beginning in 2009. However, a June 3, 2009, “notice of return and claim” was returned to the county as undelivered and the county can’t prove that they provided subsequent notice in 2009.

The AP said Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Gus Kwidis wrote that the county tax claim bureau complied with state notification requirements before the auction.

“There is no doubt that [she] had actual receipt of the notification of the tax upset sale on July 7, 2011, and Aug. 16, 2011,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, on Aug. 12, 2011, a notice of sale was sent by first class mail and was not returned.”

Joe Askar, Beaver County’s chief solicitor, said that based on the law, Kwidis made the right decision.

“The county never wants to see anybody lose their home, but at the same time the tax sale law, the tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error, either,” Askar said.

Battisti still lives in the house. She told the AP that she plans to again appeal the sale of her home.

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  • ohiogreg

    RE: The $6.30 tax bill. Way before it goes to auction the courts should be required to send a letter that requires a signature to prove receipt of the letter

  • dot

    Do people realize how stupid they sound? A $6.30 tax ballooning to
    $255.84 and the tax collector takes their home? We have people who don’t pay their taxes and owners of places that cannot be located. Municipalities should spend their efforts collecting taxes that would benefit the community. All they had to do was send a certified letter needing a signature or have the sheriffs department hand her the demand. It would eliminate all this waste of time and legal fees Come on people! Use common sense and stop hiding behind excuses. Every city or town can change their charter so laws keep up with the times. Common sense is always the best option

  • Joseph Freitas

    “The county never wants to see anybody lose their home, but at the same time the tax sale law, the tax real estate law, doesn’t give a whole lot of room for error, either,”
    Ha! considering they profited $115,000 on this deal.

  • Jack Mabry

    Common sense has never reigned supreme among bureaucrats. All they care about is following the law, no matter how stupid that law is, to protect their butts. That, and picking up their paychecks. If you want compassion, looking at bureaucrats to provide it, is looking in entirely the wrong place. She needs to go to her elected officials for some kind of help. They love helping someone like this, makes them look good with the electorate.

  • mibtp

    Such evil to take away a widow’s home in this way. I hope she sues for triple.

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