Most often, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the agency to make waves in the paper for coming down hard on delinquent tax bills, but now it is a County in Pennsylvania that is making the news.
Recently, a Pennsylvania widow lost her home over a tax bill that originally cost $6.30, which at the time was not much more than the cost of a Subway sandwich.
The casualty in this recent lawsuit over a property tax bill is Eileen Battisti. She and her husband bought a home near Pittsburgh in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania in 1999, which is at the center of recent tax controversy.
“Battisti’s husband died, leaving her with three children, the home and the mortgage. She used the proceeds from her husband’s life insurance to pay off the mortgage but was unable to timely keep up with the other bills, including the taxes due on the property,” wrote Kelly Phillips Erb of Forbes earlier this week.
After her husband’s death, Battisti missed several property tax deadlines from 2008-2010. While Battisti eventually paid off her debts, the original tax bill of $833.88 plus penalty and late fees caused her to lose her home. “She did not, however, tack on additional interest which had accrued but was not yet included on the tax bill for the late payment. How late was she? Six days. The interest on the late payment? $6.30,” wrote Kelly Phillips Erb.
In 2011, the grand total due from the tax bill in 2008 had rocketed to $255.84. “Enough was enough, according to county officials,” wrote Kelly Phillips Erb, “who began the process of putting Battisti’s house up for sale.”
Battisti’s house “sold at a sheriff’s sale for nearly $120,000” to cover the 2008 tax bill’s interest. After subtracting the taxes and cost of sale, she is only eligible to the remaining money made on the sale of $108.039.
“She doesn’t want the money, she says: she merely wants to keep the house where she has lived for the past 15 years, now worth about $280,000. Apparently, she has the option to do that if she can scramble together nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Battisti claims that the man who bought her house, S.P. Lewis, has offered to sell the house back to her for $260,000.” wrote Phillips Erb.
Battisti sued the county and Lewis, claiming that she was never notified of the sale or the tax debt. However, the court claims to have sent her a notice via certified mail in 2011, and a sheriff’s deputy visited her at least once. Her lawsuit has proven unsuccessfully so far. Battisti says the sale of her home was unexpected and unwelcomed and her lawyer has announced that they will appeal the case. Currently, Battisti is still in her home.
According to Battisti, the tax mistake happened because she was used to her husband handling the taxes and paperwork before his death in 2004.
Like Battisti, many Americans are blindsided by life’s misfortunes, such as death and bankruptcy. If you are in debt due to back taxes, it is best to contact a tax resolution attorney today. The professionals at U.S. Tax Shield can help you.