A Michigan Man Underpaid His Taxes by $8.41 and Lost His Home
Oakland County auctioned off an elderly man's property and kept the profits because he owed under $9 in taxes.
This happens all the time in Michigan according to reason.com,
An 83-year-old retired engineer in Michigan underpaid his property taxes by $8.41. In response, Oakland County seized his property, auctioned it off to settle the debt, and pocketed nearly $24,500 in excess revenue from the sale. Under Michigan law, it was all legal. And hardly uncommon.
The state of Michigan isn't just allowing counties to seize property to get the money their owed. The state is allowing counties to take anything they want, sell it and keep the profits. For example, Uri Rafaeli purchased a rental property in 2011 for $60,000. Since he mistakenly underpaid his property tax by $8.41 the county seized the property, sold it and pocketed $24,500. How on earth does that make sense?
Rafaeli purchased this rental property as a way to have a regular income now that he's retired. Now he's lost everything. The property he had seized is now worth $128,000 according to Zillow and he gets nothing.
Court documents show that Mr. Rafaeli isn't alone. There have been more than 100,00 similar situations in the state of Michigan since 2002.
Is someone doing something about this? Well, someone is trying but the state seems to be ignoring the issue according to reason.com,
In Michigan, however, the practice of seizing homes over tiny underpayments of property taxes is likely to remain in place unless the courts step in. A bill introduced in the Michigan state House by Rep. Gary Howell (R–Lapeer) to reform Act 123 collected a handful of co-sponsors this year but did not receive even a committee vote.
This whole thing seems to ridiculous to be real. Michigan, we can do better than this.