Property taxes must be paid, and it’s legal for governments to take property to pay an outstanding debt. But the government shouldn’t keep any more money beyond what’s owed. The rest is your property: home equity that you’ve worked hard to build.

In courts and legislatures, Pacific Legal Foundation fights to protect your nest egg and prevent governments from stealing homeowners’ equity.


In courts and legislatures, Pacific Legal Foundation fights to protect your nest egg and prevent governments from stealing homeowners’ equity.

Eleven States Allow Home Equity Theft

October 6, 2021 | By CAROL PARK

Real Clear Policy: Minnesota’s unjust home equity theft must end

While Minnesota is often called the land of 10,000 lakes, local governments today treat it as the land of 10,000 takes. Between 2014 and 2020, Minnesota counties took thousands of homes and millions o…

August 10, 2021 | By CHRISTINA MARTIN

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…

February 18, 2021 | By CHRISTINA MARTIN

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 …

August 13, 2020 | By CHRISTINA MARTIN

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 p…

March 27, 2022 | By JOSHUA POLK

The Orange County Register: Stop home equity theft by the state of California

Property rights are one of the most fundamental constitutional provisions that protect Americans against government abuse. Unfortunately, these rights are regularly under assault by state and local ta…


The Hill: Massachusetts grandmother lost her savings to tax foreclosure law

When Deborah Foss, a 66-year-old grandmother in New Bedford, Mass., bought her home in 2015, she expected it would be where she would live the rest of her life in comfort and security. But by February…

April 01, 2022 | By BRITTANY HUNTER

One woman is now living in her car after Massachusetts stole her home

Sixty-seven-year-old Deborah Foss has spent the winter living out of her car in New Bedford, Massachusetts. If you’ve ever experienced a Massachusetts winter, you know it has the power to chill you to the bone. It’s not ideal weather for anyone to endure, but imagine spending the coldest months of the year camped out in …

December 22, 2021 | By BRITTANY HUNTER

What were PLF’s best victories for liberty lovers in 2021?

2021 was filled with some major wins for individual liberty. As we close the year, we want to celebrate our top 10 victories. #10 Challenging a California law that puts gender preference above equality before the law In June, in a unanimous opinion, the Ninth Circuit held that a shareholder of a California company has …

December 13, 2021 | By ANGELA C. ERICKSON

Report: Massachusetts Homeowners Lose Millions in Home Equity Theft Racket

Massachusetts is one of a dozen states that still practice home equity theft: When a homeowner owes a tax debt, no matter how small, the local government can force a foreclosure and keep the full selling price of the home—leaving the homeowner with nothing. A new Pacific Legal Foundation report, Violating the Spirit of America: …

December 09, 2021 | By BRITTANY HUNTER

An unconstitutional Massachusetts practice robbed one family of seven decades of memories over a $2,000 tax bill

There is so much to a home that extends beyond its physical walls. A home is a place where families gather to break bread, celebrate holidays, and plant their roots. It is a place where our most cherished memories are made. A home also offers families financial security. The home that shelters is also the …

May 07, 2021 | By CHRISTINA MARTIN

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 …

October 27, 2020 | By CHRISTINA MARTIN

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 …

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