County Making Changes In Tax Claim Bureau Following Investigative Report

taxes

The Beaver County Tax Claim Bureau will be making some changes in its standard operating procedures to help better identify properties that should have actions taken against them to collect delinquent property taxes.

The move follows an investigative report by the Beaver Countian which first revealed that Joan Unis, owner of Unis Demolition in Aliquippa, owes approximately $500,000 in unpaid property taxes that the county never attempted to collect (including municipal, school, and county tax) originating back to the 1990s.

County Commissioners Dennis Nichols and Joe Spanik met with Chief County Assessor Michael P. Kohlman yesterday to discuss how such “oversights” could be avoided in the future (Commissioner Tony Amadio is on vacation and did not attend the meeting).

“The first thing that we’re going to do is instruct the outside law firm that oversees bankruptcy cases for the county to review the status of all bankruptcies involving delinquent property taxes on a regular basis,” Commissioner Nichols told the Beaver Countian.

The Tax Claim Bureau currently budgets approximately $20,000 per year for the Law Offices of Taylor & Alsko in Ambridge to handle bankruptcy cases. But the county had been largely relying on notices from the United States Bankruptcy Court to notify them when cases were closed and collection actions could begin against delinquent property owners. Michael Kohlman had attributed the failure to collect nearly $500,000 from the Unis Family to the county not receiving a court notice that the bankruptcy case they initiated over 20 years ago had been closed.

“There is an online system that has been set up by the courts that we will have the law firm check every week or every month to see if any delinquent parcels that have been put in bankruptcy status have come out of bankruptcy,” said Commissioner Nichols.

“We’re also going to be making changes to the types of reports generated by the Tax Claim Bureau,” added Commissioner Nichols. “Right now we have a printout of all tax parcels that are delinquent and what their status is, but the way it is generated makes it very difficult to spot these kinds of errors.”

County Assessor Michael Kohlman said the county’s IT Department will be changing the way that report is organized. “All of the properties are currently sorted by parcel number so you would never be able to spot that one owner owes on several different properties. We’re going to start sorting the delinquent report by the owner’s name instead which would have obviously made problems with the Unis’ properties much easier to find.”

Kohlman noted that approximately 10,000 parcels in Beaver County go into delinquent tax status each year, although the vast majority of those are eventually paid by property owners before becoming eligible for collections through an upset sale.

Beaver County Controller David Rossi has notified the Tax Claim Bureau that his office will be conducting an audit of the department’s assessments of real estate and collections of delinquent real estate taxes.

 

10 comments

  1. SpeakTheTruthToo

    Well done JP. Continue fighting the good fight.

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  2. It was a oversight my ass. it seems to amaze me. that this person was able to purchase more properties while being delinquent.

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    • Absolutely agree with your assertion that this was no accident, and I’m interested in seeing this further investigated.  We can be pretty sure that the Unis family are not the only benefactors in Beaver County to what amounts to de-facto tax forgiveness.
      As to your secondary point about purchasing additional properties while delinquent on real estate taxes, I can help with that.  Unpaid taxes, and I believe any lien on real estate follows the property and not the property owner.  This  goes back to the Magna Carta days and English Common Law which treat real property and personal property differently.  This is the reason for extensive Title searches conducted whenever real estate is sold and a mortgage lender is involved, as sometimes liens surface on the property that the current owner didn’t incur and knew nothing about. 
      It may seem like an outdated principle, but it’s a guiding principle in real estate law in at least 49 of the 50 states, Louisiana being the one possible exception.  The Unis’s, or anybody else could continue to buy real estate regardless tax delinquencies on other real estate they own.  An attorney would have to explain the distinctions between real and personal property further as I’m absolutely at the upper end of what I know about this.

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  3. I wish John Paul would do a story on the amazingly horrendous job all parties involved in getting a sewer system in Ohioville are doing. He seems to be the only person to get any kind of results. I know I haven’t been able in 15 years.

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  4. It’s tax evasion! Pure and simple. They knew they owed it and chose to evade paying it. The IRS would be up their ass by now.

    Does Amadeo still work there????

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  5. Goes back to the old saying ” it’s not what you know but WHO you know” that counts! James, this is case in point! Like your post!

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  6. It would be fun to see how much county employees and their friends and families pay in property taxes vs the normal taxpayer. I looked at a few assessments that were really low.

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    • What would be even more enlightening would be a “family tree” of county employees to see who is related to who and who kissed who’s ass to get their job.

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  7. Did we just enter into the Twilight Zone? How did Attorney’s Taylor & Alsko get dragged into this? Funny thing is no oversight when a widow’s home was sheriff sold for $6 of delinquent school taxes, but Joan Unis, owner of Unis Demolition in Aliquippa, owes approximately $500,000 in unpaid property taxes dating back to the 1990s. Now county claiming “oversight”? Something is smelling real bad; Commissioner Nichols, maybe first thing to do; instead of pointing fingers everywhere else is dig in your buddy Connie’s desk for the mysterious missing Unis unpaid taxes. Is anybody wondering why does the tax collector insist on personally handing “Ralphie” the Unis demolition checks from the county? “THANK-YOU CONTROLLER ROSSI for digging to the bottom of this. We can always count on YOU for informing Beaver County of the truth.”

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