Hennepin's legal team - The Pacific Legal Foundation

Supreme Court orders county in Minnesota to pay back woman whose condo was seized to pay tax bill


MINNESOTA, MINN (mocsnews.com) – The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of a Minnesota Woman is bringing light to the fight against home equity theft. 

A Minnesota grandmother, Geraldine Tyler, is set to receive $40,000 from Hennepin County following a Supreme Court ruling in her favor. 

Geraldine Tyler with her family Tyler v. Hennepin County” by Pacific Legal Foundation is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Hennepin County seized Tyler’s condominium in exchange for unpaid taxes. The total amount owed added up to around $15,000, with $2,300 of that amount being unpaid taxes. 

Despite making more than enough to cover these fees, Hennepin County kept the entirety of the amount earned off the sale. Now, they’ve been ordered to pay Tyler $40,000. 

The Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented Tyler in the case, reports that 12 states plus DC seize properties and keep the excess amounts from the sale of said properties. 

“Property taxes must be paid, and it’s legal for governments to take the property to pay an outstanding debt. But the government shouldn’t keep beyond what’s owed,” writes Pacific Legal Foundation.

The Pacific Legal Foundation reports that thousands of homes have been foreclosed in similar cases.Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain https://flic.kr/p/6WB4v4

The Supreme Court must have agreed with this ideology with all chief justices ruling unanimously in Tyler’s favor. Chief Justice John Roberts reiterated that once the $15,000 was paid, Tyler should’ve received the excess equity. 

“The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but no more,” said Justice Roberts. 

This ruling sets a new precedent for the 12-plus states that handle cases like this once in a similar manner. This ruling could be the beginning of a change in the legislation that allows home equity theft. 

A constitutional lawyer with the CATO Institute, Thomas Berry, believes that states will no longer be able to take more compensation than they are owed if this ruling sets a precedent. 

“After this decision, states will no longer be able to get away with the pernicious practice of ‘home equity theft,’” said Berry.

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