Everyone has a story.There are good people out there who have fallen on bad times. Some kind of mis-fortune, loss of job, loss of health; some beyond their control, some well within their
Widow Lost Her Home Due To Six Dollar Late Fee
Dated: March 18 2015
54 year old widow, Eileen Battisti lost her husband in 2004to stomach cancer in 2004 in Pennsylvania. At his death her mortgage was paidoff. All she had to do was pay the annual taxes.
In 2009 she paid her property taxes six days lateaccruing a $6.30 late fee. The following year she paid the late fee – endof story.
No. Not so fast.
Battisti said, “I paid what I was told to pay.” Whatthe bill didn’t show was she also owed the county $234.72 as a result ofinterest and other charges associated with the late fee. This shortfallultimately prompted the local tax collectors in Beaver County, PA to sell herhouse in a tax sale.
The owners of her house paid $113,000 at auction andthen offered to sell it back to her for $160,000 since she was still livingthere. If she didn’t buy it the owners wanted $2,500 a month for rent.
Battisti was outraged and hired a private attorney tochallenge the county. After a long legal battle, a Pennsylvania appeals courtoverturned the sale of her house. The current owners of her house askedthe Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the case. Meanwhile this whole thingcost Battisti more than $30,000 in legal fees.
I would like to say this was an isolated case, butaround the United States, aggressive taxing authorities are increasinglyseizing and selling homes as a way to generate revenue. This makes the elderlyextremely vulnerable because they have paid off their home trusting the taxcollectors to be honest and up front about how much they owe.
Julie Nepveu, a senior attorney at AARP FoundationLitigation supported Battisti in her appeal. Nepveu said, “I spent aweekend with Mrs. Battisti’s notices, and if I, as an attorney, couldn’tunderstand them, imagine how confusing it is for the average person.”
For homeowners who face difficulties paying theirproperty taxes, there is help. Every state has abatement or exemption programsfor property taxes. These programs consider full or partial relief totaxpayers because of their age, disability, income or personal status. Benefits are NOT automatic and require the homeowner’s initiative and drive tomake something happen.
So for the amount of lunch, $6.30, don’t get caughthomeless.