Talk About Corruption: A Michigan County Seized An Elderly Man’s Property Over $8.
Uri Rafaeli bought a home in Michigan for 60,000. It was a fixer-upper that he invested a lot of time and money in. He tried his best to do everything right but due to a minor miscalculation, he failed to pay the county 8 dollars in taxes. Rafaeli was unaware that this happened and did not reside in the rental so he was unaware that the county stacked late payment upon late payment on the measly 8 dollar balance. But it got worse as the county decided to seize his home and sell it at auction to recoup their 8 dollars…
“In August 2011, Uri Rafaeli bought a three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot home in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich., for $60,000. He converted the fixer-upper into a rental property.
Two-and-a-half years later – and at the time unbeknownst to the retired engineer – Oakland County seized his property, put it up for auction and sold the house for $24,500. All this, after a mistake in calculating his property taxes, left Rafaeli’s account delinquent by just $8.41. Oakland County ended up keeping all of the $24,500 from the sale, while Rafaeli, now 83, was left without the home and the income he made from renting it.
Rafaeli’s stunning case, which is at the heart of a legal battle currently being considered before Michigan’s Supreme Court, is an extreme example. Yet it is hardly unique: more than 100,000 homeowners in the state have fallen victim to an aggressive property tax law that legislators in Lansing passed two decades ago. Similar statutes have been passed in more than a dozen other states.
Act 123 of 1999 was meant to speed up the redevelopment of blighted properties amid Michigan’s economic woes, but critics of the statute say it has allowed county officials to act as debt collectors and line their coffers by retaining the excess revenue made by selling houses with unpaid property taxes — no matter how paltry the debt.
“When the government takes property to settle a debt, they have to give the extra money they make back to you,” Christina Martin, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation who is representing Rafaeli in his case against Oakland County, told Fox News. “It doesn’t matter what law Michigan passes, they have the constitutional obligation to pay back any more than they are owed.”
In a recent op-ed for The Detroit News, Rafaeli said he was “shocked and angry” over the county’s actions.
“Soon I would learn that while I had signed up for a piece of the American Dream with my investment, I was entering a bureaucratic nightmare — all thanks to Michigan’s Draconian tax forfeiture laws, which I’m now challenging in court,” he wrote.”
This is ridiculous the county had no right to seize his property over 8 dollars. Just how poor are they that they have to go after their own residents in this way?
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