Home News How government encourages property theft in Massachusetts — and homeowners are fighting back

How government encourages property theft in Massachusetts — and homeowners are fighting back

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Mark Muchaccio, who lives in South Easton, Massachusetts, first heard about Tallage Lincoln when he learned that a real estate investment firm had evicted his longtime family from their home.

Muchaccio is not alone. Many Bay State homeowners have set their sights on realtors working with government agencies to seize and sell tax delinquent properties. I won’t leave

This looting is legal in Massachusetts — at least for now.

In most states, tax garnishment is fairly straightforward. If you don’t pay property taxes, state or local officials can seize and sell your property at auction to meet your tax liability (and related interest and fees). Once the debt is paid off, the remaining proceeds will be returned to the original owner to compensate for their ownership.

But in Massachusetts, officials omit this crucial final step. Instead, they receive the entire house as tax liability payment – no matter how valuable the house is and how small the debt is. Some municipalities maintain windfall. Others authorize the house to be transferred to a private investor and the private investor can make a profit. nothing is left.Massachusetts is one Darth State This sketchy practice remains legal.

The Muchaccio case is a textbook illustration of how this scheme works. When her mother died in 2006, Mark and his brother inherited her home, which had been owned by the family for 57 years. However, in November 2020, a real estate agent who thought the house would be vacant suddenly appeared and exchanged the keys. (Mark Muchaccio shares his story here.)

They learned that the house no longer belonged to them. In fact, they haven’t owned the home since the Massachusetts Land Court transferred it to Tulledge Lincoln in July 2019. Talage sent a foreclosure notice, but the Muchaccios do not remember receiving it.

The Muchaccios had $3,982 in unpaid taxes, and it wasn’t the first time they’d fallen behind as their family was struggling financially with health problems. But sometimes I was late with payments, but I always managed to pay what I owed. Had he realized he would lose his home, he would have found a way to pay off his debt sooner, says Mucciaccio.

In June 2017, town officials sold a lien to Talage, giving the company the right to collect the debt with interest if the Muchaccios did not make timely payments, as well as permission to take them home. rice field. A month later, Tallage began foreclosure proceedings on her $287,000 worth of home. Pursuant to Massachusetts law, the court granted ownership of Tallage with a lien of less than $4,000. Despite decades of amassing a fortune, the Muchaccio family never received anything back.

This is a common result in such cases. Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) studies found Homeowners who suffer tax foreclosures will lose more than 87% of their home assets. And unsurprisingly, those most affected by these foreclosures are the most vulnerable people in society – the elderly who use bonds and those with health problems – and they themselves have few resources to protect And much like the Muchaccio situation, most of these property owners don’t realize their homes are in danger until it’s too late.

Compared to others who fell victim to such tax foreclosures, the Mucciaccios were ultimately lucky. The PLF helped them fight back in court, and Tallage relented, allowing the family to pay off their debts and regain ownership of their homes. need greater protection from foreclosure laws.

The good news is that Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced legislation to reform these seizures and ensure homeowners are properly compensated for the value of their property. You may soon find that you can no longer profit from vulnerable property owners.

Property owners must pay taxes and those who do not may eventually face foreclosure proceedings. But the Constitution and Justice require the government, or the private corporations on whose behalf the government collects taxes, to compensate for the fairness of their homes. We hope Massachusetts is the next state where home property theft is a thing of the past.

Christina Martin is Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit legal organization that defends the liberties of Americans when threatened by government excesses and abuses.she is the leader of PLF Initiative To end home equity theft.

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