The official website of the Michigan Property Tax Foreclosures Class Actions
There are different lawsuits pending on where your property was taken. Find your regional class action.
Public Act 123 directs how tax foreclosures work. We are arguing parts of it are illegal. Find out more.
We are working to represent the class but also want to represent you. Contact Us.
A class action lawsuit consolidates similar or identical claims of many people into a single lawsuit against one or several defendants. Class actions are cost effective ways of resolving many legal disputes that have a lot in common.
In a typical class action, a plaintiff sues a defendant or a number of defendants on behalf of a group, or class, of absent parties. This differs from a traditional lawsuit, where one party sues another party for redress of a wrong, and all of the parties are present in court. Instead of each person bringing his or her own lawsuit, the class action allows all the claims of all class members—whether they know they have been damaged or not—to be resolved in a single proceeding through the efforts of the representative plaintiff(s) and appointed class counsel.
A class action attorney helps initiate and handle a class action, and advocates for the Class and argues against the sued governments and their officials in court. Class action attorneys are generally paid a percentage of the money that is recovered on behalf of the Class. Some lawsuits that involve civil rights will require the government to pay all or some of the attorneys' fees due to their illegal actions. All attorney fees must be reviewed and approved by the court.
These tax foreclosure class actions involve Michigan county treasurers throughout Michigan who seize and sell thousands of properties from owners who owe a small amount of past due tax. Many of these parcels are worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars more than the total tax debt owed. Instead of returning the excess sale proceeds or the "surplus equity" in excess of the tax debt, treasurers simply keep the extra funds for the county's operations and/or general budget.
These funds has resulted in governance for profit to fill budget shortcomings of county governments. We believe that is wrong.
It is our position (and the position of some judges) that this 'keeping everything' approach constitutes governmental theft and refunds must be issued. We are asking various Michigan state court judges to order refunds for all foreclosed upon property owners whose equity was greater than the debt owed. In other words, surpluses should be refunded. The county treasurers have told us they refuse to do so.
For example, one of our cases involves Donald and his property worth $100,000. There was a past due tax of about $800 in a parcel property in Gratiot County, Michigan. With interest, penalties, and expenses, the total amount was just under $2,000. Despite offering to pay all these costs to get his home back in lieu of a tax sale, the Gratiot County Treasurer foreclosed and took ownership of the entire parcel. She sold at tax auction for $42,000. She refused to all equity in excess after paying the $2,000 in taxes. After paying back the tax, she refused to pay the $98,000 taken or the profits of $40,000.
So, we are bringing many lawsuits to seek refunds for everyone who is in a similar situation to Donald to obtain refunds.
In short, the answer is no. We believe that even if a property owner knowlingly failed to pay his or her taxes, the balance of the proceeds after the tax-auction still belongs, by law, to the property owner after all expenses, interest, and penalties are paid. In other words, the government should not be allowed to keep the extra surplus equity.
Sometimes county treasurers seize property by tax foreclosure because the owners of the property passed away and payment of the property taxes was overlooked by the probate court or the the personal representative (executor) of the estate. There are still legal options to establish or reopen an estate in the local probate court. We can help.
Under state and federal law, if citizens rights are violated, the county government sometimes, in certain cases, has to pay your attorney fees above and beyond the return of the surplus proceeds. We will seek to collect attorney fees for these types of cases from the government or as a percentage of recovery.
Currently, we are suing to challenge this illegal process in various county courts around Michigan. We are seeking to use these lawsuits to stop this illegal process and have "excess equity" returned to property owners (or their heirs if the owners have passed away). The only way counties and county treasurers are going to stop taking this property from citizens is if we go to court.
If you are a former property owner who has been foreclosed upon and the sale price was greater than the total tax debt in the past three or six years, you are likely already part of one of our regional class action lawsuits. You do not need to do anything just yet, but if you would like to have an attorney provide direct representation (which we recommend), you are encouraged to contact us ASAP.
This website will be regularly updated with additional news and information about the class actions. Check back often.
This website is for informational purposes only. Using this site or communicating with us through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.
Outside Legal Counsel PLC - www.MichiganTF.com