An unlawful scheme is enriching local governments at the expense of Minnesota homeowners, who are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity. A new report published by Pacific Legal Foundation found that when homes are foreclosed to pay property tax debts, Minnesota homeowners lose an average of 92% of the equity in their home. Geraldine Tyler, a 92-year-old widow, lost all the equity she had in her Minneapolis condo – valued at more than $90,000 — over a debt of just $15,000. Minnesota allows counties to foreclose on an indebted property, sell it, and keep all of the proceeds from the sale. Hennepin County sold Tyler’s condo for $40,000 and kept everything. Tyler’s story isn’t unique. Pacific Legal Foundation’s report found that from 2014 to 2020, more than 1,200 Minnesota homes were subject to tax foreclosures in 12 counties. Most homeowners’ debts were less than a tenth of their home’s value, resulting in the theft of $207,000 in home equity on average. “Home equity is property, and it’s protected by the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions,” said David Deerson, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Although the government can take property to settle tax debts, it can’t take more than it is owed. Doing so amounts to unconstitutional home equity theft.”
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