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TAX CLAIM BUREAU (02/02/82)

decided: February 2, 1982.

IN RE: TAX CLAIM BUREAU, GERMAN TOWNSHIP, MT. STERLING, 54 1/2 ACRES MISCELLANEOUS BUILDINGS. RINALDO DICENZO AND FRED CUTERI, APPELLANTS


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County in the case of In Re: Consolidated Return of Sale of Properties for Delinquent Taxes by the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau (Property of Solomon and Teslovich), No. 89 December Term, 1972.

COUNSEL

C. Grainger Bowman, McNees, Wallace & Nurick, of counsel, Coldren & Coldren, for appellants.

Gerald R. Solomon, for appellees.

Judges Mencer, Craig and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge Palladino did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Macphail

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 375]

On October 12, 1972, the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) sold to Rinaldo DiCenzo and Fred A. Cuteri (Appellants) for non-payment of delinquent taxes two tracts of real estate in German Township, Fayette County, listed in the tax sale notice as owned or reputed to be owned by Mt. Sterling Fuel Company (Company). That sale was subsequently confirmed by the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas. On May 21, 1979, the Bureau filed a "Petition to Void Sale"*fn1 setting forth that the said two tracts had formerly been owned by the Company but that the Bureau had recently discovered that on

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 376]

August 26, 1970 the two tracts together with another tract not involved in the present dispute, were sold to George A. Solomon and George Teslovich (Appellees). The Bureau asked that the deed to Appellants be declared null and void because notice of the delinquency and of the tax sale had not been given to Appellees. Upon the filing of a stipulation of facts, the Court of Common Pleas entered an order*fn2 declaring the tax sale invalid and directing that the tracts be re-sold by the Bureau at its next tax sale unless the taxes were paid before-hand. The instant appeal is from that order.

The Court of Common Pleas held that since it was stipulated that the Appellees had not received notice that the taxes for the year in question were delinquent or that the two tracts would be sold at a tax sale as required by Section 602 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Act), Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. ยง 5860.602, the sale was invalid.

In their appeal to this Court, Appellants contend that (1) the Bureau had no authority to void a tax sale once the sale had been confirmed absolutely, (2) the Court of Common Pleas had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition, (3) proper notice under the Act had been given to Appellees and (4) the proceeding was barred by laches.

[ 64 Pa. Commw. Page 377]

Concerning Appellants' first argument that the Bureau lacked statutory authority under the Act to petition the court to void a tax sale, our Supreme Court in its opinion vacating our original decision in this case noted that inasmuch as Appellees joined in the Bureau's petition without objection, the question of the Bureau's authority need not be addressed because the Appellees as record owners "clearly have standing to challenge the sale for lack of notice." Tax Claim Bureau, Pa.at n. 8, 436 A.2d at 147 n. 8. We are of the opinion that that language disposes of Appellants' first argument. Moreover, this Court has held that courts of equity have the power to inquire into the giving of notice as required by the Act after judicial confirmation of a tax sale. Hoover v. Bucks County Tax Claim Bureau, 44 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 529, 405 A.2d 562 (1979).

Appellants' second argument was the one addressed by this Court in its first decision. It follows from the fact that that decision has been vacated ...


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