A 93-Year-Old Woman Couldn’t Pay Her $2,300 Tax Bill. The Government Sold Her Home and Kept the Money.

The outcome of Geraldine Tyler’s case is still uncertain.

In 2010, the 93 year-old woman moved out of her Minneapolis condo after being shot in the vicinity and having a frightening encounter. However, she couldn’t finance her new apartment or pay the $2,300 property tax due to her former condo.

The government increased that debt by more than 550 percent over the following five years. They also added almost $13,000 in penalties, fines and interest. Tyler was unable to pay. That, it seized her property, sold it for $40,000—and kept the profit.

A federal appeals court declared that this was acceptable last month.

“Tyler doesn’t argue that the county lacked the lawful authority for her condo to settle her tax debt,” said Judge Steven Colloton of U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit. “Rather, Tyler argues that the county’s retention of the surplus equity—the amount that exceeded her $15,000 tax debt—is an unconstitutional taking.”

Tyler isn’t contesting her failure to pay her property tax. Tyler also isn’t trying to escape responsibility. She is not seeking the $40,000 full value of the condominium, but only the proceeds from the government’s sale.

Court’s verdict: she has no right or claim to the cash.

Christina Martin, an advocate for Tyler at Pacific Legal Foundation says, “It is pretty shocking.” Reason. This is extremely bad news for property rights.

Tyler may seem absurd. Tyler is not the only one in this situation. Most states have tax-foreclosures systems that don’t protect the property. ProfitsThere are around a dozen such seizures. Sometimes, homeowners become homeless because of a neglected tax bill.

Bennie Coleman, a 76-year-old man, was expelled from Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Marshal Service more than $134 in unpaid land taxes. It was worth $197,000 and all proceeds went to the government. Coleman was said to have spent many months sleeping on the porch and in his lawn chair. He also suffered from dementia.

This is what I see all the time. Martin says that most people do not know and don’t fully understand the situation. “And no matter what, the government should not be able to take everything from you just because you owe them money….What I’ve seen in other cases like this is most people who lose their property this way are suffering from medical issues, or they’re elderly. The poor are also affected.

The tactic works against the people who are most at risk. Tyler has no serious health issues but is just a few days away from her 100th Birthday. “She told me that it would take her a long time to get through this. Martin says that the couple are requesting a rehearing, and that they will look into taking the matter to U.S. Supreme Court if it fails. “I don’t have forever.”

Tyler’s story is reminiscent of civil forfeiture. This process allows police to seize assets of people suspected of having committed a crime. Law enforcement can take wads of cash, people’s life savings, vehicles, personal possessions, and more—often without criminal GebührTyler’s case is even more serious than a conviction. Tyler’s was a case that goes beyond this. punishment. This was an act of taking and she has no recourse.

“[Let’s say]You owe [the government]$15,000 so they can seize your mutual funds, and then keep the cash. What is the difference? Martin questions. Martin responds: “That they could do that is astonishing, and that should worry people. Because if you can do it to your house, why would they not do the same thing to your mutual fund, bank account or car? It’s possible to name it.