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Author: Christina Martin

August 10, 2021

The Detroit News: A reminder to counties: Do not steal from residents

A just government cannot oppress the poor or exploit relatively small mistakes to seize lifesavings at their residents' expense. And yet, Michigan counties are fighting in courts across the state to do just that. After the Michigan Supreme Court ruled last year that counties violated property owners' rights by keeping surplus funds from tax-foreclo ...

May 07, 2021

Great news: North Dakota ends home equity theft

Co-authored with Michael Fedorchak, the state director for AFP North Dakota. There is cause for celebration in North Dakota, as it joins the growing list of states that forbid home equity theft. Until recently, local North Dakota officials could seize and sell valuable properties when the owners fall behind on property tax payments and then ...

February 18, 2021

Daily Journal: U.S. Supreme Court asked to protect property-tax debtors’ right to notice warning of equity theft

To collect $1,200 plus interest, a Nebraska county took Walter Barnette's land worth $25,000 and gave it to an investor. Walter didn't get a penny of his equity in the land, and he had no idea he was in danger of losing it. According to Nebraska's property tax law, this was perfectly legal. Given the extreme consequences, you might think th ...

February 05, 2021

Jurist: Tax lien foreclosures in Massachusetts or legalized home theft

In some states, missing a tax payment could cost you your home. That's exactly what happened to one family from Easton, Massachusetts. Although brothers Neil and Mark Mucciaccio owned their house outright, they struggled to keep up with rising property taxes when their family experienced several medical and financial hardships. When the brothers fa ...

October 27, 2020

The Supreme Court could end home equity theft this upcoming term

If you are late on your property taxes, can the government take more than you owe in taxes, penalties, interest, and costs? PLF filed a petition on behalf of Elliot Feltner, asking the U.S Supreme Court to answer that important question. If granted, the Court could end predatory tax foreclosures that allow the government to take a windfal ...

August 13, 2020

National Review: Watch out for home equity theft on the horizon

As businesses closed and staff were laid off as a result of COVID-19, millions of Americans were faced with a personal financial crisis. As a result, some local governments have temporarily adjusted policies that might have threatened residents' ability to stay in their homes. For example, counties in Michigan suspended all 2020 property-tax forecl ...

July 23, 2020

The Detroit News: State’s highest court upholds fundamental property rights

"Government shall not collect more in taxes than are owed, nor shall it take more property than is necessary to serve the public." With these words, the Michigan Supreme Court on Friday confirmed what Uri Rafaeli and his attorneys knew all along: The government violates constitutional property rights when it takes more than it is ...

September 17, 2019

The Hill: Arizona’s property tax law abuse must end

Jim Boerner, a disabled veteran in Mesa, Ariz., recently landed in the headlines after losing his home over $236 in unpaid property taxes. Boerner had tried to pay off his property tax debt to the county but was given wrong information and therefore failed to save his home from the auction block. An investor bought ...

September 05, 2019

How the Takings Clause protects property rights

One evening several years ago, someone smashed the passenger window of my unattended, worn-down car and stole several items. I was frustrated to find a damp car seat covered with broken glass. But when I realized that the few stolen items included a small, unlabeled leather-bound Bible that held sentimental value for me, I felt ...

July 09, 2019

The government stole their property. Now the Perez family is fighting against home equity theft

Six years ago, Erica Perez and her father, Romualdo, purchased a small, $60,000 apartment complex in Detroit. They were pursuing their American dream. Romualdo has family in Detroit, so part of his retirement plan was to fix up the complex, along with a small home next door, and spend his golden years with his family, ...

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