Opinion: Stop Michigan counties’ unconstitutional stealing

Can Oakland County confiscate a citizen’s personal property for $8.41 in unpaid taxes? This question will likely be answered by the Michigan Supreme Court later this year.

The case at hand involves Uri Rafaeli, who failed to pay the interest owed on property taxes for a rental property in Southfield several years ago. Oakland County eventually foreclosed on his property for the $8.41 plus $277 in additional interest and fees. Similarly, Oakland County seized Andre Ohanessian’s property in Orchard Village for a $6,000 tax debt.

The county proceeded to auction Rafaeli’s property for $24,500 and Ohanessian’s property for $82,000 — and then kept the surplus proceeds. Lower state courts have agreed the officials acted properly under Michigan’s General Property Tax Act, which requires officials to take property for any amount of unpaid taxes and keep all the proceeds if they sell it.

Read the full article here.

By Joe Barnett, Detroit News