Court: Woman Whose Home Was Seized Over $6 In Unpaid Taxes Should Get A Hearing

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The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has overturned a ruling by a Beaver County Judge, ordering that a woman who lost her home over $6.30 in unpaid property taxes should be granted a hearing afterall.

Eileen Battisti had her home located at 118 Rosewood Drive, Center Township, auctioned off by the Beaver County Tax Claim Bureau in 2011. The sale stemmed from a balance owed from 2008, when Battisti paid her property taxes to the Central Valley School District late, leading to an additional $6.30 in interest which she did not account for. The woman claims she received no notice of the unpaid interest from 2008, and that she received no notification that her home was scheduled for upset tax sale.

On September 12, 2011, Battisti’s home was sold for collection of an unpaid balance of $234.72, compounded interest and costs on the original $6.30 she owed from her 2008 school taxes.

Less than one month later, her attorney filed objections and a petition to set aside the upset tax sale. But after a series of filings by Battisti, the Beaver County Tax Claims Bureau, and S.P. Lewis (who purchased the property), Beaver County Judge Gus Kwidis upheld the sale.

Battisti appealed Judge Kwidis’ ruling to the Commonwealth Court, citing four separate grounds. First, that she had been deprived of her home without a hearing. Second, the upset tax sale should not have been upheld because she made her tax payments in accordance with invoices from the Tax Claim Bureau, which never sent an explicit invoice for $6.30; and that the Tax Claim Bureau should have applied her 2010 payment to the 2008 unpaid balance before applying it to the 2009 taxes. Third, that it is a violation of the equal protection clauses of the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions to permit citizens of the County of Philadelphia the opportunity for a redemption after upset tax sale but not citizens who live in other counties. Fourth, that it was improper for the court to authorize an upset tax sale where taxes were paid in full, leaving only past due interest and costs.

The Commonwealth Court issued a ruling in Battisti’s favor earlier today.

“In denying Taxpayer’s objections without an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied [Battisti] due process,” wrote the Commonwealth Court in its ruling, “There can be no deprivation of property without notice and an opportunity to be heard.”

The Commonwealth Court vacated the ruling by Beaver County Judge Gus Kwidis, and ordered an evidentiary hearing in the case take place. The court issued no ruling on the other three issues raised by Battisti in her appeal.

“Well, I guess we’re having an evidentiary hearing,” said Beaver County Solicitor Joseph Askar after learning of the ruling. “Our position is that if the Commonwealth Court would have looked at the other issues, the case is pretty clear; whether it’s $1 or $6,000, if the tax goes unpaid, a sale is what is required by law to claim the unpaid tax.”

A hearing date for the case has not yet been scheduled. Eileen Battisti is being represented by Edgardo D. Santillán of the Santillán Law Firm in Beaver.

 

24 comments

  1. THERES NO ROOM FOR COMMON CENTS IN THE LAW!!!!!!!!!!! :stupid:

  2. WOW YET ANOTHER CASE OF CROOKED DEALINGS IN BEAVER COUNTY PA COURSE I GUESS THAT IS NOT NEWS ANY MORE THE ENTIRE DAM COUNTY IS CROOKED GLAD TO SEE THE Lady is getting a hearening but i dont think she will win in the sorry and crookedest county in pa\

  3. WOW YET ANOTHER CASE OF CROOKED DEALINGS IN BEAVER COUNTY PA COURSE I GUESS THAT IS NOT NEWS ANY MORE THE ENTIRE DAM COUNTY IS CROOKED GLAD TO SEE THE Lady is getting a hearening but i dont think she will win in the sorry and crookedest county in pa

  4. What a terrible thing to have happen. A small mistake and your house is sold out from under you, but if you knowingly commit a crime you get ARD, or a slap on the wrist. I hope the best for her, but fear the worst.

  5. Like I said before, you DO NOT own your property, you LEASE it from the government. This should not of ever happened to this lady. $6.30?! Union No! is absolutely right about what he said. Now she has to fight the no common sense morons in Beaver County. Good luck with that! She loses her house, George David still does what ever he wants. Go figure.

  6. SpeakTheTruthToo

    Pay your taxes on time. Everyone knows if you don’t pay your taxes on time, there is interest and penalties. She should have called Center Twp. and asked them EXACTLY how much she owed before she sent the check. But of course, I’m a jerk, and she has no personal accountability concerning her situation.

    • For all we know she did mail it on time, and the slouches at the Tax Bureau took their time to apply the payment to the Account. Remember, we’re talking 6 days here. If she were in fact late, yes the County should have mailed her another statement with the Balance Due. Otherwise once that Check is cashed it is considered Paid In Full. When she received her 2009 and 2010 Tax Bill, that she paid on time and in full, apparently that Balance Due was never on any of those Statements, otherwise she would have paid it.

    • To SpeakTheTruthToo: There’s a basic concept in our legal system that the punishment should fit the crime. This woman deserved to lose $170,000 for being late $6 on her taxes? By that standard, we would be giving life sentences for parking tickets, or summary executions for speeding.
      It’s unconscionable that these laws even exist in the first place. Siezing a property for tax sale should be an instrument of last resort, after all ither reasonable efforts are made to collect the tax. It shouldn’t be the first weapon employed. I for one, hope these laws are eventually abolished.

  7. I thought Knafelc was bad… Kwidis is a complete and utter asshole. I am ashamed to say I’m from here. Disgraceful and disgusting.

  8. I can not wait until we can vote some of these JACKASSES out!

  9. I can not wait until we can vote some of these JACKASSES out!

  10. I always thought if you pay the buyer or the person who payed the tax backbby a certain time you can keep the property…but that said it sounds like the deal beaver Falls has with autobody works…talking about crooked…I think there was someone who wanted something for nothing…

  11. All these so called public servants are crooks.they don’t care about the people only what they can squeeze out of them.money then your home or your life.they will take all of these.sooner or later.$6.30 cents.f#*king crooks .

  12. I don’t know Askar but he sounds like an a-hole. Some poor old ladys house was sold for $6.30 in interest (NOT tax) and he somehow feels justified in doing that. He is the exact reason why so many people despise lawyers. This county is a freaking joke.

  13. Someone should look into any connection between the person who bought the home and county officials/judges involved. There is probably something amiss there. Also, there has to be some paper trail that clearly shows what info was sent to this lady. I would think any notice of tax sale sent to her would have to be signed for upon recipt. This whole situation is ridiculous and if taken at face value, pretty damn scary.

  14. One other thing. If the lady owed $6 and they sold it for say $20,000. Does the county take their back taxes and the lady gets the rest or does the county steal it all? If they get it all that is pitchfork material.

    • The county takes what is owed and gives you the rest from the sale, but the problem is the county never makes much effort to get anymore than what they are owed, screw the value of the property. In this case, the woman had paid off her house(valued at $280,000) with her husband’s insurance when he died. They sold the house for only $110,000. So, yeah, they take their $230, and give her the other $109,770, but the house was worth $280K, so she lost $170,000 from this sale. Absolutely criminal.

  15. I have a question, and it may sound stupid, but please bear in mind, I’ve never had to deal with this kind of situation, and I hope that someone can answer this for me.
    Mrs. Battisti paid her taxes to the CV School District late in 2008, which, because of the lateness, garnered her a penalty of $6.30.
    Her home was sold in 2011.
    So, from the article above, I assume that she paid her taxes in 2009 and 2010 on time, but in that time period, NOBODY at the tax thought that it might be a good idea to mention to her tha she had this unpaid balance? Was this unpaid balance even listed on her tax invoices mailed to her from the tax bureau?
    What did her reciepts say when she paid her taxes for the years before the sale in 2011?
    There is so much with this situation that just makes no sense. I truely hope that this woman is able to win this issue in court, but it’s looking like one hell of an uphill battle…

    • Nikki, I totally agree ,sounds like some crooked dealings going on here. She did also pay her 2009 and 2010 Taxes, and if she did owe any money from 2008, the money paid afterwards should have been applied to the previous balance, to bring the account current. I think she has a legitimate case and wins. The sad part is this poor old Widow had to hire an Attorney to fight this ridiculous battle in court to keep her home.

  16. Ah, the Beaver County Lebanese in that courthouse just keep shining on and on!! You think Askar got that job on credentials? Doubt it. Definitely agree with previous poster, would love to know the political connection the new “buyer” had. Either through Center Twp or the county. There’s a snake somewhere! And when are Kwidis and Knafelc done?! Those two are ridiculously absurd and both have track records of higher courts overturning them. Knafelc let a murderer go, remember? She’s now in state prison, no thanks to him

  17. To speak the truth, bet you’re one of those asshole attorneys! The woman probably was unaware of the interest due! Who’s going to loose their 200 some thousand dollar house to 6 bucks? Only some arrogant ass would make a statement like that! Just remember, you so called perfect people who are nothing but hypocrites..what goes around comes around!

  18. I’ve been a big critic of JP and his site. But I admit he is talented in his ability to collect info. This type of shit burns my ass. This poor lady. THESE situations are were your talents and skills can benefit people. I truly hope that if there is a connection between the buyer and the county they get burned. Truly. And to the person who made the asshole comment, your not a jerk your an asshole.

  19. I don’t like JP and I think he is reckless and prints just gossip and speculation. But I tip my hat on this article. I think helping the helpless and good feel stories are just as good as others. Why not include stories on good things public officials do or good acts that the common citizens do. By doing that it gives us variety to read and not just anger.

  20. Take back your county and take back America!

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