Judge upholds ruling that Pennsylvania widow can lose home over $6.30 in unpaid interest

Eileen Battisti first lost her home at a tax auction in September 2011.
By Evan Bleier   |   April 29, 2014 at 8:31 AM  |  Updated April 29, 2014 at 9:05 AM   |   Comments

ALIQUIPPA, Pa., April 29 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania judge upheld a ruling that a widow can lose her house over a $6.30 tax bill.

Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Gus Kwidis ruled that Eileen Battisti was given enough notice about the unpaid bill prior to the sale of her $260,000 house at a tax auction in September 2011.

According to Kwidis, the tax claim bureau proved that it followed proper protocol before selling Battisti’s home to S.P. Lewis for $116,000 on Sept. 12, 2011.

"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," Kwidis wrote. "Moreover, on Aug. 12, 2011, a notice of sale was sent by first class mail and was not returned."

Battisti, who still lives in the home, plans to appeal the ruling in Commonwealth Court. If her appeal is unsuccessful, she will collect most of the $116,000 sale price.

“We never want to see any homeowner lose their house to a tax sale -- it's an unfortunate matter, but this case is no different from any other case,” the county's chief solicitor, Joe Askar, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Tax sale law is pretty clear that if you don't pay your taxes for a two-year period, the sale must proceed."

He isn’t optimistic about the widow’s chances of winning her appeal.

"I don't think the judge had any wiggle room to decide any [other] way ... and unfortunately for Mrs. Battisti, I think the Commonwealth Court is going to affirm his decision," Askar said.

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