Pa. Woman May Not Lose Home Over $6 Bill

August 21, 2013

A western Pennsylvania widow has won a chance to argue that she should not lose her $280,000 home over $6.30 in unpaid interest on taxes.

AP reported that the state's Commonwealth Court ruled it was a mistake for a Beaver County judge to rule against the woman, Eileen Battisti, without holding an evidentiary hearing first.

Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt said that under the state's Supreme Court precedents, "due process under both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions must be satisfied whenever the government subjects a citizen's property to forfeiture for nonpayment of taxes."

Battisti and her husband bought the property outside Pittsburgh in 1999. AP reports that she paid off the property after he died in 2004 with proceeds from his life insurance policy. After some personal setbacks, she had difficulty taking over all of the financial matters and fell behind on various tax bills. She believed she had paid them all off even though some were late. The $6.30 penalty was added to her tax bill in 2009 and grew with interests and costs to $235 by late 2011. Battisti still lives in the property, according to AP, even though it was sold nearly two years ago at auction for $116,000.

In her decision, Leavitt wrote that the auction was "particularly inappropriate because the outstanding liability was small and the value of the home was far greater than the amount paid by [the] purchaser."

Source: "Widow who lost $280k home over $6 gets hearing," NBC 2 News (8/20/2013)

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