Some see a problem, others an opportunity

Homeowners losing their property because of tiny tax liens. A sad story, but there are a lot of homes out there that have been abandoned by their owners and what’s a town to do with them? A friend of mine just added an extra acre of land (thus extending his own creek frontage) by paying something like a thousand bucks to his municipality. At one point the land had a house on it that sold for $67,000 (this is rural land we’re talking about) but welfare tenants turned it into a meth den and ruined it. Before the town bulldozed it the property was a complete nuisance to its neighbors, but now my friend has 59, instead of 58 acres and peace and quiet.

It’s such an inspiring tale that I’m thinking of spending a week in upstate New York looking through tax records to see if I can’t duplicate the feat. Hey, if Elizabeth Warren can do it, how hard can it be?


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12 responses to “Some see a problem, others an opportunity

  1. FF

    Don’t you remember Lou Caravella’s tax auctions of a few years ago? Tod doesn’t have the cojones to do such a thing, but when you can’t pay your proerty taxes when everyone else does, the collector needs some teeth to have fairness.

  2. pulled up in OG

    I don’t recall that any house ever actually hit the auction block. Frank?

    Unlike the bozo up in Norwalk.

    • I’m pretty sure that your memory’s right, Pulled Up – everyone always came up with the money, but often at the very last second. Still, as my friend’s experience in New York shows, there are instances where no one wants to redeem the property and if the new owner is a small town that just wants to get rid of a problem and return it to the tax rolls, then a bargain might be had.

  3. Fred2

    True, but read the article.

    Seems to me that some reform in the tax lien laws ( i.e. make it understandable , clear and in readable english) and perhaps some compassion & intelligence might be usefully applied both by the laws and by the local government( i.e. Before a Town sells some lien for $500 on a $100K++ Asset someone might check who is living there and make a visit, if it’s a dotty old person who hasn’t paid their water bill, perhaps you might get social services involved? Perhaps get leins against bank accounts other assets?)

    It seems wildly unjust that a government can sell all the rights to a valuable asset from under someone else, for paltry fraction of the estimated value without some checks and balances.

    • I agree, Fred. Big difference between abandoned property and a home occupied by a family struggling to hold on, or an old lady too confused to realize what’s happening. Empathy and careful use of this draconian tax enforcement weapon seems called for.

  4. pulled up in OG

    “Police said the mother and daughter owed $50,000 in taxes to the city of Stamford and their house was in foreclosure.”

  5. Dollar Bill

    Since when does “empathy” figure into a Randbot’s calculations? Ayn Rand and I are disappointed in you!. Clearly if this “struggling” lady didn’t have the funds to pay her mortgage, why should anyone help her? After all, since she failed to get rich enough or lucky enough to pay her bills, perhaps it would be best to use this parasite as a cautionary tale, and let her suffer. Moral hazard and all that.

  6. Dollar Bill

    Agreed that “empathy is called for”, or that it is not? You contradict yourself without a shred of intellectual intervention.

    • Oooh, how very serious of you, 3DB! You’re quite right, there’s nothing funny about life – it’s just this war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson!

  7. DollarBill

    As a very perceptive article in the New York Magazine, Lisa Miller describes how new psychological research indicates that wealth erodes empathy with others. In the “Money-Empathy Gap”, Miller cites one researcher who says that: “The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes them more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.”

    Sounds like Ms. Miller has you pegged, CF!