Monday, March 16, 2015

tax sale - disputed facts - right to hearing - Battisti v. Tax Claim Bureau

Estate of Filchner – Cmwlth. Court – March 9, 2015



Following its decision in Battisti v. Tax Claim Bureau, 76 A.3d 111 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2013), the court held that where a petition to set aside a tax sale raises disputed issues of fact, the court must hold a hearing and take evidence, rather than summarily resolving the facts on its own.


In granting a party’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court denied Taxpayer’s objections without an evidentiary hearing, and thereby denied Taxpayer due process. Battisti, 76 A.3d at 116.  Due process under the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions must be satisfied whenever the government subjects a citizen’s property to forfeiture for nonpayment of taxes. Geier v. Tax Claim Bureau of Schuylkill County, 588 A.2d 480 (Pa. 1991). Once Taxpayer presents a prima facie challenge to the tax sale, the burden shifts to the Tax Claim Bureau to prove strict compliance with the notice provisions of the RETSL. Michener v. Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau, 671 A.2d 285, 289-90 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996). Where there is a factual dispute, a taxpayer is entitled to an evidentiary hearing and remanded the case to the trial court.




The opinion, though not reported, may be cited "for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent."    210 Pa. Code 69.414.


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