Later this month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in an important Fifth Amendment taking case from the Eighth Circuit, Tyler v. Hennepin County, Minnesota.
In this case, a Minnesota county foreclosed on and sold a homeowner’s condo because the now-94-year-old owner was delinquent in paying her property taxes. She owed $2,311 in back taxes, and the county tacked on another $12,689 in penalties, costs, and interest – for a total property-tax debt of $15,000. The county sold her condo for $40,000 (far less than it was worth). But instead of returning the surplus $25,000 to the owner, the county pocketed the entire $40,000, and the former owner got nothing and lost her property. When Tyler sued to recover the surplus $25,000, the district court and the Eighth Circuit upheld Minnesota’s delinquent property-tax scheme and allowed the government to keep all of the proceeds from the tax-foreclosure sale.
Steve explains why the Supreme Court should reverse the lower courts’ decisions. The lower courts held that Tyler did not have a property interest in her condo’s equity because she forfeited her condo when she failed to pay her property taxes under Minnesota’s delinquent-property-tax statutory scheme. In other words, the government doesn’t have to pay you for the property it took from you because you didn’t own your property because the government took it. This is a sorites paradox begging to be corrected.
Steve’s analysis of the case is available at: https://fedsoc.org/commentary/fedsoc-blog/in-tyler-v-hennepin-county-the-supreme-court-will-decide-whether-the-government-violates-the-takings-clause-when-it-keeps-surplus-proceeds-of-a-tax-foreclosure-sale