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Owner of coal lands challenges tax lien

Published July 08. 2013 05:04PM

BET Lehigh Real Estate, LLC and BET Associates IV, of Horsham, Montgomery County, which purchased from Lehigh Coal and Navigation Coal Company coal lands in Schuylkill and Carbon counties, has challenged the claim by the Tamaqua Area School District it owns delinquent school tax on its holdings in Schuylkill County.

A defense response was filed in the county court to have a lien sought by the school district dismissed. The district sought to have a lien placed against the company in the amount of $80,147.50.

In its response, BET claims the property is not real property but instead relates to the right to mine coal that forms a portion of certain unidentified real property owned by the company.

It further contends the underlying assessment on its property is improper. It claims the permit parcel is not real property but instead represents an intangible right to mine coal, which rights are not necessarily held by the owner or owners of the corresponding surface estate, which are separately assessed.

It further asserts the permit parcel was number identified in the assessment record of the county and tax, underlying the claim was an assessment that was twice taxed.

The response further claims the tax underlying the claim was not validly assessed because the surface has not been severed from the coal, thus the tax underlying the claim was not validly assessed.

BET is asking the county court to nullify the school district's claim.

It further contends the claim is barred by the virtue of the April 13, 2011 Bankruptcy Court ruling (LCN filed for bankruptcy which led to BET purchasing its holdings). It claims the court ruled that pre-closing to the purchase of the land taxes assessed against LCN are barred as prejudicial.

It calls attention to the Panther Valley and Tamaqua Area school districts' motion filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, seeking the turnover of funds placed in escrow pursuant to the conveyance of the real estate property to BET Associates IV, LLC.

The decision was made by Judge John H. Thomas which denied the relief sought by the school districts. BET claims the sale of the property was made free and clear of liens.

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