Henderson Hodgens inherited a farm from his parents and worked as a bus driver. After a work related injury kept him off the job for a year he was unable to pay the property taxes on his farm. In response, Van Buren County took his farm and sold it for $47,900 to collect $5,900 in back taxes. Rather than simply keeping the amount needed to pay off the tax debt the county also pocketed the profits. Under the Michigan General Property Tax Act, the state and local governments are allowed to sell their residents' property for delinquent taxes and keep proceeds in excess of the tax debt. Hodgens wasn't the only resident not given leinicey when facing financial troubles. The Wayside Church Youth camp ran into the same problem when they couldn't cough up $16,500. Van Buren County sold their property for $180,000 and kept the profits as well. Hodgens has since moved to a trailer park in California.
don't kick a man when he's downis most suitable here. The principle of beneficence would stipulate that they give leinicey to people who are unable to pay. Ability to pay should be the first thing considered for any tax. Property taxes fail to account for the fact that a lot of people who own property are cash poor. For all of the problems inherent in personal income taxes they at least don't tax people for what they don't have and follow the ability to pay principle. The county also violated the takings clause of the 5th amendment by keeping proceeds in excess of what the property owners were liable to pay. No compensation is pretty far removed from just compensation, and even had they refunded the profits to the owners it would still not excuse them from selling the property without allowing them the opportunity to
challenge the decision in court. This affront to basic ethics and civil liberties demonstrates that the county operates much like the mafia who expects you to pay them their protection fee even in bad times.