A widow in Pennsylvania loses her house over a $6.30 bill. Eileen Battisti, and her husband, Anthony, bought the house in Aliquippa, just outside of Pittsburgh, in 1999. The single family home stands on just a little over a third of acre.
According to court documents, five years later, Battisti’s husband died, leaving her with three children, the home and the mortgage. She used the proceeds from her husband’s life insurance to pay off the mortgage but was unable to timely keep up with the other bills, including the taxes due on the property.
The bills kept coming in and Battisti claims that “physical and emotional challenges” made it difficult to make ends meet. Among those challenges was a serious injury that she says left her unable to work for some time. So, she admits, she was occasionally late paying the bills.
In 2008, Battisti missed the deadline for paying her property taxes. Battisti eventually paid the original tax bill ($833.88) plus penalty and late fees. She did not, however, tack on additional interest which had accrued but was not yet included on the tax bill for the late payment. How late was she? Six days. The interest on the late payment? $6.30.
In 2010, Battisti was late again with her county tax payments. She again settled up, paying interest and penalty in full, but only for 2010. She still had an outstanding account balance on her account totaling $234.72: that was the $6.30 due from 2008 plus additional interest and costs. That amount remained unpaid.
By 2011, the amount due from the 2008 tax bill had ballooned to $255.84. Enough was enough, according to county officials, who began the process of putting Battisti’s house up for sale.
Battisti’s house was eventually sold at sheriff’s sale for nearly $120,000 in order to satisfy the unpaid balance from 2008. After taxes and costs deducted from the sale, Battisti is entitled to the $108,039 of the proceeds.
That isn’t what Battisti wants. She doesn’t want the money, she says: she merely wants to keep the house where she has lived for the past 15 years, now worth about $280,000. Apparently, she has the option to do that if she can scramble together nearly a quarter of a million dollars.