A widowed woman in western Pennsylvania is continuing the legal battle to keep her home, as the government claims the right to take her home away from her as a result of her not paying a mere $6.30 in property taxes.
Eileen Battisti insists that she paid all taxes in full and was unaware of her owing the $6.30. The court’s decision last week turned down Battisti’s request to reverse the 2011 sale of her home outside the city of Aliquippa. “I paid everything and didn’t know about the $6.30” says Battisti. “For the house to be sold just because of $6.30 is crazy.”
In August 2013, the Commonwealth Court sent the case back to Beaver County Common Pleas Court, saying it was a mistake to rule against Eileen Battisti without first holding an evidentiary hearing. However, this most recent ruling provides another hurdle for the widowed Battisiti to jump over in her effort to get her house back.
Battisti, who is 53 years old, lost legal rights to her $280,000 home over two years ago after failing to pay the meager sum, but has made multiple appeals on grounds she did not know it was owed. She is still living in the home, and she plans to appeal this decision again to the Commonwealth Court.
“She’s going to get that money, but she’s going to lose her house. All the notice requirements were met” wrote Judge Kwidis. “In tax assessment laws, even if I feel sorry for her, I can’t do anything to help her. Everyone felt bad about it.”
She had previously owed other taxes, the court noted, but at the time of the sale she owed just $235, including other interest and fees. Beaver County Common Pleas Judge Gus Kwidis wrote in his ruling that the county tax claim bureau complied with notification requirements in state law before the auction.
“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,” the judge wrote. “Moreover, on Aug. 12, 2011, a notice of sale was sent by first class mail and was not returned.”
The most obvious question to be asked, is why couldn’t she, or anyone else involved in this case, simply pay the $6.30 and move on with the matter? Surely the process of law has already used thousands of dollars pursuing this fight. The property sold for about $116,000, and she is entitled to $108,039 if subsequent appeals are unsuccessful, according to the paper.