Wednesday, August 21, 2013

And you thought Banks were bad

The tax man cometh

A Pennsylvania woman almost lost her $280,000 home when it was sold at auction for $116,000 due to delinquent taxes...

$6.30 in delinquent taxes...

Actually the taxes were paid, nine days late and  the $6.30 was a leftover penalty fee.

Fortunately the appeals court judges were not as stupid as the Beaver County judge that is responsible for all this and have granted the woman an evidentiary hearing ruling the county judge was in error refusing it and that the woman was denied due process

More interesting is: "the trial court erred in upholding the upset tax sale because Taxpayer made the tax payments in accordance with invoices from the Tax Claim Bureau, which never sent her an explicit invoice for $6.30"  

Basically she was late on an 833 dollar bill in 2008,  penalties and fees were assessed and she was sent a bill for $897.13 which she paid,  unfortunately between the time she received the bill and the time she paid the bill the Tax Claim Bureau had tacked on another $6.30 in interest which remained unpaid, and apparently the notice was returned "unclaimed" to the Tax Claim Bureau.

The following year, also late and assessed penalties resulted in a bill for $3990.03 which was also paid.  They applied that payment to her 2009 taxes But that original $6.30 cents had ballooned to $234.72 and was still being held as an outstanding debt from 2008, and that is the amount they auctioned her $280,000 house for.

It stands to reason that had the Tax Claim Bureau simply billed her for $4224.74 including the delinquent 2008 amount in her 2009 bill she probably would have paid it.  How this auction got past the judge in the first place leaves you wondering.  Is it too much to expect some modicum of common sense from our petty bureaucrats and officials?

Court Filing

Another case

An 81-year-old Rhode Island homeowner was evicted two weeks before Christmas from the home she had lived in for more than 40 years because she had fallen behind on a $474 sewer bill. A corporation bought her house at a tax sale for $836.39 and then resold it for $85,000.


There are approximately $15B in delinquent property taxes per year and those seized and sold at auction often go for, if not pennies on the dollar, at least for significantly less than fair market value. These shares run counter to the interest of the community,  depressing market values as well as the tax base.  Aside from legislating common sense, it may be time to legislate at least fair market value as the opening bid for sheriff's sales (or at least a reasonable discount, say 5 or 10%).  Those who buy properties at a deep discount care little for the properties or the communities in which they are located.


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