Saturday, June 3, 2023

Supreme Court Rules: Governments Owed Taxes Can’t Seize More Than They Are Due; Supreme Court Sides With 94-Year-Old Woman Whose Home Equity Was Seized By County

Governments Owed Taxes Can’t Seize More Than They Are Due, Supreme Court Rules:
‘Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more,’ writes Chief Justice Roberts
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that government agencies that seize private property to satisfy delinquent taxes can’t keep the surplus if it sells for more than the taxpayer owes.
The case came from Minneapolis, where Hennepin County officials seized and sold an elderly woman’s condominium after she accrued $15,000 in penalties and delinquent taxes for failing to pay the property tax bill for five years. The apartment sold for $40,000 and county officials contended that they could keep the $25,000 difference because Minnesota law extinguished the owner’s interest in the property.
Geraldine Tyler, 94 years old, stopped paying property taxes after her family moved her to a senior community in 2010. She filed suit, arguing that by keeping the surplus, Hennepin County violated constitutional provisions barring government from taking private property for public use without just compensation. Lower courts dismissed the case, but the Supreme Court made swift work of their decisions. The justices heard the suit less than a month ago—the last argument of the current term—and issued the opinion far ahead of cases argued last year which have yet to be decided.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts cited legal precedents dating to the Magna Carta, when in 1215 the English barons forced King John to swear that the remainder of a dead man’s property must be returned to the estate after tax debts are satisfied. In America, Roberts observed, most states followed that principle with laws requiring that officials return the surplus after seized property is sold for tax debts. --->READ MORE HERE
Supreme Court Sides With 94-Year-Old Woman Whose Home Equity Was Seized By County:
The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with an 94-year-old Minnesota grandmother who was wronged when her county forced the sale of her condominium over unpaid taxes, and kept the proceeds that far exceeded the taxes she owed - the latest "home equity theft" to make headlines.
The case followed a report late last year by the Pacific Legal Foundation which found that 12 states and DC allow local governments and private investors to seize far more than what is owed from homeowners who fall behind on property tax payments.
Writing this opinion was Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote in Tyler v. Hennepin County that "The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more."
Christina Martin, an attorney for homeowner Geraldine Tyler, told the court during April 26 oral arguments that local governments shouldn't be able to seize and keep the full value of a home as payment for much smaller property tax debts.
Minnesota law allows counties to retain windfalls at the expense of property owners - which between 2014 and 2020 applied to around 1,200 Minnesota residents who lost their homes and all the equity in them, for debts that averaged just 8% of the home's value, according to PLF. --->READ MORE HERE
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