ALIQUIPPA, PA — A judge has upheld the seizure and sale of a widow’s home over an unpaid property tax bill of $6.30. The homeowner claims that if she knew about the bill she would have paid it.
Eileen Battisti, 53, of Aliquippa, lost legal rights to her home in September 2011 due to the tiny late fee. She has since been fighting for an appeal in court. She says Beaver County failed to provide her proper notice of the sale.
Battisti, who lost her husband several years ago, has said that she has struggled to keep up with taxes and financial burdens alone. Battisti paid her 2008 Center Area School District taxes six days late. Though she paid the balance in full, she did not pay an additional $6.30 interest fee for the late payment by a May 1, 2009, deadline.
“I paid everything, and didn’t know about the $6.30,” said Battisti.
The county then continued to penalize her on the $6.30 with additional late fees and interest. By 2011 it reached $234.72 — yet Battisti says she was still not aware of it.
Ultimately her home at 118 Rosewood Drive, valued at $280,000, was sold off at auction for $116,000 to a buyer named S.P. Lewis, of Imperial. Battisti says that Lewis, offered to sell it back to her for over twice what he paid.
“They wanted $250,000, and they would give the house back,” said Battisti’s attorney, Joseph M. Spratt. “I found them repulsive — their approach toward this.”
Battisti would receive $108,039 in proceeds from the sale, but would lose twice that amount in equity.
“Yes, I had issues. I’m a widow. I’m raising three kids on my own, trying to put them through college,” Battisti said. “Yes, it took me a while to get the bills, but I pay my bills. To steal a house for $6 is ludicrous.”
A shocking estimate given by county Solicitor Joseph Askar reveals that the county seizing between 600 to 1,000 properties per year over unpaid taxes. Beaver County has 170,000 residents.
“I’m going to fight it until my dying day,” Battisti said. She will be allowed to stay in the home until a final ruling is made.
The tragedy of Eileen Battisti exposes the utter degradation of property rights in the USA. Property owners have been reduced to mere tenants on land that is ultimately controlled by the government. Such property taxes ensure that no one can ever own their land free-and-clear, and Americans are all one lost piece of mail away from losing everything to land-grabbing extortionists.
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