Grandmother, 94, wins Supreme Court case over Minnesota pocketing $25k income from sale of her residence

The Supreme Court sided with a 94-year-old grandmother who sued a Minnesota county authorities after it bought her residence over unpaid tax and pocketed the income.

In a unanimous choice handed down on Thursday, the justices dominated that Hennepin County had violated the fifth Amendment’s prohibition on seizing non-public property when it bought Geraldine Tyler’s $40,000 condominium in 2015 over an unpaid $15,000 tax invoice.

“The County had the power to sell Tyler’s home to recover the unpaid property taxes. But it could not use the toehold of the tax debt to confiscate more property than was due,” Chief Justice John Roberts stated in a written opinion.

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

Ms Tyler’s residence was seized over a $2,300 unpaid tax invoice, which had soared to $15,000 with curiosity and penalties.

She appealed the state forfeiture legal guidelines that allowed the county to maintain $25,000 in surplus income.

Ms Tyler took the case to the Supreme Court in April after decrease courts dominated towards her.

Attorneys from the Pacific Legal Foundation who represented the grandmother celebrated the choice as an essential victory for property rights.

Geraldine Tyler, 94, had her residence taken by Hennepin County, Minnesota over $15,000 in unpaid property taxes, pursuits, and charges

(Pacific Legal Foundation)

“This decision affirms that property rights are fundamental and don’t depend solely on state law,” Christina Martin stated in an announcement.

“The Court’s ruling makes clear that home equity theft is not only unjust, but unconstitutional.”

Ms Tyler’s attorneys stated she had fallen behind on property taxes after transferring to an house for assisted senior residing.

The case will now go to trial in a decrease court docket for Ms Tyler to argue that she is owed the truthful market worth of her property, minus her tax debt.

Justice Roberts’ opinion acknowledged that Minnesota regulation “recognises in many other contexts that a property owner is entitled to the surplus in excess of her debt.”

“If a financial institution forecloses on a mortgaged property, state regulation entitles the house owner to the excess from the sale.

“And in collecting past due taxes on income or personal property, Minnesota protects the taxpayer’s right to surplus,” his decision said.

Justices Neil Gorsuch and  Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in a concurring opinion that the law also supported Ms Tyler over the state taking excessive fines.

“Economic penalties imposed to deter willful noncompliance with the law are fines by any other name,” the justices wrote.

“And the Constitution has something to say about them: They cannot be excessive.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation stated in an announcement that greater than a dozen states have interaction in “home equity theft”, costing householders greater than $860m.

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