Unpaid Property Taxes Used to Defraud Owners
April 26, 2023 | District of Columbia, Minnesota, Nebraska
Sometimes it feels hard to find comparable biblical language for present-day political problems. But Scripture speaks directly to one current US Supreme Court case—Tyler v. Hennepin County, for which oral arguments are scheduled to begin in late April. To put it bluntly: The state of Minnesota “devour[s] widows’ houses” (Luke 20:47). Its handling of property tax debt is defrauding “laborers of their wages” and oppressing “the widows and the fatherless” (Mal. 3:5).
The case’s plaintiff is Geraldine Tyler, a 94-year-old widow and resident of Minneapolis. In 2010, she moved out of her one-bedroom condo because she felt unsafe in her neighborhood after a shooting. She couldn’t afford both the rent on her new apartment and the condo’s property taxes and left $2,300 in taxes unpaid.
Hennepin County, in cooperation with the state of Minnesota, added around $13,000 in penalties and fees, giving her a $15,000 bill she could not afford to pay. She forfeited her condo, but when the state sold it for $40,000, Minnesota didn’t just take the $15,000 it said Tyler owed. It kept the full sale price and left her with nothing. (Excerpt from Christianity Today.)