On July 17, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court addressed the abhorrent policy and practice of municipal treasurers keeping the owner’s equity in valuable real property foreclosed upon for delinquent taxes. In Rafaeli v County of Oakland, the Michigan Supreme Court declared that property owners were entitled to the surplus of funds from sale of the property at a tax sale. While very often taxpayers purposefully decline to pay taxes because the property is of little value, there are instances where age, race, employment, hardships, lack of knowledge, infirmity, and other reasons cause property to go up for tax sale when the property is quite valuable – especially in comparison to the amount of taxes owed. The Michigan Supreme Court has now decreed that the practice of confiscating those surplus funds is an unconstitutional taking and that the taxpayer has a right to those surplus funds.
Visser and Associates, PLLC has extensive experience in all things related to real estate taxes including representing taxpayers who have had their property foreclosed on as well as purchasers of property at tax sales. The attorneys at Visser and Associates, PLLC have represented clients at both the trial court and appellate level in these matters. The Rafaeli decision adds yet another level of complexity to property tax foreclosures – but one that may partially rectify some of the gross inadequacies of municipal interpretive application of the General Property Tax Act and one which may open up the floodgates for owners who retain experienced counsel and expeditiously file claims and lawsuits.
While there is generally a three year statute of limitation on bringing your claims, that time likely does not begin to run until the property tax sale – when the surplus was realized. Certain claims may not be time-barred. If you believe that you have lost a significant amount of equity in property that has been foreclosed on for delinquent taxes then gather your documents and contact attorney Donovan Visser at firstname.lastname@example.org to setup a free initial consultation.