A widow was given ample notice before her $280,000 house was sold at a tax auction three years ago over $6.30 in unpaid interest, a Pennsylvania judge has ruled.More from USA Today:
The decision last week turned down Eileen Battisti's request to reverse the September 2011 sale of her home outside Aliquippa in western Pennsylvania.
The dispute involves school district taxes, penalties and interest for 2008, which Battisti paid in early May 2009. But because her payment was six days late, an additional interest payment of $6.30 was added. Battisti said she was never notified of the overdue interest after country tax authorities credited her account.Eileen Battisti claims she never knew about the tax bill and struggled to take over the family finances after her husband passed away. From the April 16, 2013 court filing:
When her home was sold, the Tax Claim Bureau of Beaver County said she was delinquent $234.72.
Taxpayer and her husband, Anthony Battisti, purchased the Property as their home in 1999. Anthony Battisti was responsible for managing the family’s finances, including the payment of all bills and taxes. He died in 2004. Taxpayer used her husband’s life insurance policy to pay off the mortgage. Taxpayer explains that she has struggled to assume responsibility for the financial matters previously handled by her husband. She has also struggled with both physical and emotional challenges that have caused her to be tardy in paying taxes.Unfortunately, selling homes for small tax delinquencies appears to be an upward trend:
Unfortunately, cases like Battisti's are not uncommon, as state and municipal tax offices scramble to fill budget holes by aggressively pursuing unpaid property taxes — even if it means auctioning off homes over a few bucks.
As a result, annual tax lien sales have topped $15 billion per year, according to a report released by the National Consumer Law Center last year.
For investors, tax lien sales are nothing less than a gold mine. Big purchasers — for example, debt collectors or large retail banks — can snap up the properties at deeply discounted rates and then sell them at a ridiculous profit.