USAToday.com reports that Eileen Battisti, of Aliquippa, PA has lost her court case to set aside the sale of her home to pay delinquent taxes. According to the article, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that Ms. Battisti was properly notified about the September 2011 tax sale of her home, which was sold at auction for $116,000, most of which will be paid to her. The home is reportedly valued at about $280,000.
What makes this story noteworthy is the amount at issue: $6.30. There is little dispute about the facts. In May 2009 Battisti paid her 2008 school district taxes. Unfortunately, since her taxes were paid six days late, the county charged her an additional $6.30. Battisti claims that she was never notified about the overdue interest penalty. By the time the county sold her home to pay the delinquent tax penalty, the interest was up to $234.72.
Battisti sued Beaver County and the purchaser of the home at auction. She claimed that she and her husband had purchased the home in 1999, and that he had handled the financial matters for the couple. When her husband died in 2004, she paid off the mortgage from his life insurance but fell behind on property taxes. Battisti told the court that she “has struggled to assume responsibility for the financial matters previously handled by her husband,” in addition to “physical and emotional challenges that have caused her to be tardy in paying taxes.”
“I paid everything, and didn’t know about the $6.30,” Battisti told USA Today. “For the house to be sold just because of $6.30 is crazy.”
Tax notices are serious business and should not be ignored. If you receive a tax notice of intent to seize property or sell your real estate, consult with an experienced attorney immediately. The federal bankruptcy laws can provide you with some relief, allow you to restructure your finances, and pay the bill over time. In some cases bankruptcy case discharge tax debt and/or tax penalties.