The Supreme Court announced Friday it would review a case brought by 93-year-old Geraldine Tyler, who lost her home in a dispute with Hennepin County, Minnesota.
Ms. Tyler owed $15,000 in taxes on her condo, which she had bought in 1999. After a dispute with a neighbor in 2010, she moved into a senior living facility and did not pay taxes on her condo.
The county foreclosed on the property and sold it for $40,000 — but kept all the money instead of returning the $25,000 left over after the initial $15,000 debt was satisfied.
“The county unconstitutionally kept money to which it is not entitled. The moment a tax collector collects what he is owed, his power to take property is exhausted,” Ms. Tyler’s lawyers argued to the court.
She lost in lower court, prompting her to take the dispute to the justices. It took at least four of them to vote in favor of hearing her case.
According to Ms. Tyler’s legal filing, most states do not permit the government to keep all of the proceeds from a foreclosure sale. However, 14 states, including Minnesota, do allow confiscation of all equity.
The county argued that the Supreme Court shouldn’t review the case and interfere with Minnesota’s property law.
“Minnesota, like many other states, provides ample opportunity for property owners to protect their interests before a parcel of real estate forfeits — the enforcement measure of last resort,” it argued in its brief.
The case is Tyler v. Hennepin County.