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RETURN TAX SALE BY INDIANA COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU. FRANK W. CLAWSON (01/03/79)

decided: January 3, 1979.

IN RE: RETURN OF TAX SALE BY INDIANA COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU. FRANK W. CLAWSON, LOUIS EMANUEL AND THE INDIANA COUNTY TAX CLAIM BUREAU, APPELLANTS


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County in case of In Re: Return of Tax Sale by Indiana County Tax Claim Bureau, No. 1833 C.D. 1977.

COUNSEL

Louis Emanuel, with him Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rodewald, Kyle & Buerger; Daniel V. Delaney ; and Delaney, Vuckovich, Carmella & Delaney, for appellants.

Carl G. Wass, with him Caldwell, Clouser & Kearns; Gregory A. Olson ; and Marcus and Olson, for appellees.

Judges Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 493]

Frank W. Clawson and Louis Emanuel purchased 48 acres of land in Banks Township, Indiana County, at a delinquent tax sale conducted by the County Tax Claim Bureau in September 1977. The property was exposed for delinquent tax sale on account of the failure of the owners, Robert L. Glenn and Barbara E. Glenn, to pay a bill in the amount of $12.75 for school taxes for the year 1975. Upon learning of the sale of their property for delinquent taxes by means of a letter dated October 3, 1977 from the local tax collector refunding their payment of 1977 County and Township taxes, the Glenns filed timely exceptions to the Tax Claim Bureau's Return of the 1977 tax sales, asserting that the Tax Claim Bureau had failed to send a notice of the impending sale to their last known address as required by Section 602 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law, Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. ยง 5860.602.*fn1

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 494]

The Court of Common Pleas of Indiana County, after a hearing, agreed with the Glenns that the notice had not been sent to their "last known post office address" and set the tax sale aside. Clawson and Emanuel have appealed. We affirm.

The Glenns purchased the 48 acre property in Banks Township in September 1971. Their post office address at that time was 2801 North Second Street, Harrisburg. The Banks Township tax collector, who was the same person throughout this unhappy history, mailed the real estate tax bills for the years 1972, 1973 and 1974 to the Glenns at their Second Street address, and the Glenns duly paid the bills.

The Glenns moved from Second Street to 5603 Devon Drive, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in May of 1974. They notified the United States Postal Service of the change of their address but failed at that time to notify any tax authority of Indiana County of the change. As noted, the township tax collector sent the 1974 bill to the old, Second Street, address. This bill was printed and had places for recording the amount due for each of the three local taxes and a total amount due, as follows: county tax $3.25; road tax $1.50; school tax $12.50. The notation "$12.50" after "school tax" was lined out in ink as was also the figure "$17.25" appearing as total tax due. The figure "$4.75" was written on the bill as the total. The Glenns paid the tax bill with a check for $4.66 dated July 17, 1974 (the discrepancy being the result of a two percent (2%) discount for prompt payment). The check provided by the Glenns bore a printed legend containing their names and the address 2801 North Second Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17110. The

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 495]

    writer of the check, Barbara E. Glenn, had in ink struck a line through 2801 North Second Street and the zip code and had written beside these items, respectively, "5603 Devon Drive" and "17112." On or about August 1, 1974, the tax collector sent the Glenns a separate school tax bill for 1974 in the amount of $12.75. This bill was sent to the Glenns at their old, Second Street, address, forwarded by the Postal Service to the Glenns at their new address, and promptly paid.

The tax collector also sent the 1975 bills to the Glenns at their old, Second Avenue, address. Although these bills were never received by them, the Glenns in April 1975 mailed their check for $4.75 to the tax collector. The amount, $4.75, was approximated by the same amount they had paid in 1974 and therefore the amount they thought they owed. This check had the Glenns' new, Devon Drive, address printed on its face. Again in 1975 the school tax was separately billed to the Glenns' old, Second Avenue, address in ...


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