Lawsuit: Predatory Mass. tax scheme victimizes families
January 06, 2021
Boston; January 6, 2021: Today, a Massachusetts family filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that allows private investors to steal the equity that homeowners hold in their property. The Town of Easton and a private company took Mark Mucciaccio and his family’s home – worth $276,500 – over a $4,300 tax debt.
For four generations within the Mucciaccio family, a modest house in Easton had been their home. When Mark’s mother passed away in 2006, he and his brother received their childhood home from their father. But the brothers fell on hard times as the family experienced medical issues and financial hardships and started falling behind on their taxes. In 2016, they were unable to pay their taxes. Easton sold a tax lien to the private investment firm Tallage Lincoln, LLC, allowing them to eventually take the house and all of the Mucciaccios’ home equity.
“Massachusetts’s law allows municipalities to transfer a homeowner’s equity to private companies for a profit, and that plainly violates the U.S. Constitution,” said Joshua Polk, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the Mucciaccios free of charge. “While government and its agents can foreclose on homes to settle back taxes, they can’t collect more than they are owed.”
Home equity theft is widespread in Massachusetts. One study found that in a single year, more than $56 million in equity was taken from Massachusetts property owners.
Massachusetts is one of a shrinking number of states that allow local governments and private investors to reap windfalls when they take property. Last year, the Michigan Supreme Court found a similar law unconstitutional, ruling that people have a right to any surplus equity in their homes after back taxes are settled. Pacific Legal Foundation is committed to ending the practice of home equity theft across the country.
PLF filed Mucciaccio v. Town of Easton and Tallage Lincoln in the Massachusetts Superior Court.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 14 victories out of 16 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.