New England Legal Foundation Urges US Supreme Court To Rule Against “Home Equity Theft”  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                 3-6-2023

CONTACT:       Burt Peretsky, <>, 781-696-5579


BOSTON – When the government takes your property to pay overdue taxes and keeps more than the amount legitimately due on the tax bill, it steals your home equity. That is the argument in a New England Legal Foundation (NELF – www.newenglandlegal.orgamicus, friend-of-the-court, brief filed today, March 6, 2023, before the US Supreme Court.


The case, TYLER v. HENNEPIN COUNTY, MN, raises the questions (1) whether taking and selling a home to satisfy a debt to the government, and keeping the surplus value as a windfall, violates the Fifth Amendment’s “takings” clause; and (2) whether the forfeiture of property worth far more than needed to satisfy a debt, plus interest, penalties, and costs, is a fine within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment. This is the second such case in which NELF has filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court.


NELF filed today’s brief in defense of Geraldine Tyler, a 94-year-old Minnesota woman, who is fighting to regain the home equity the taxman stole from her.  After she moved from her modest condominium for health reasons, she failed to pay $2,311 in taxes on the condo.  With penalties and interest, that became $15,000 by the time the county took title to the condo and sold it for $40,000, taking $15,000 for the taxes and keeping the rest.

Says NELF Staff Attorney John Pagliaro, who wrote the brief, “She was yet another victim of home equity theft.  When the government takes your property to pay overdue taxes and keeps more than the amount legitimately due on the tax bill, it steals your home equity.”

Pagliaro added, “NELF argues that equity is property with the meaning of the Fifth Amendment and therefore protected from such practices. NELF lays out in its brief, in historical detail, how English courts had come to recognize home equity as a form of property decades before the colonies won their independence and before the Constitution was written.”


In January, when the Supreme Court was still considering whether to take the case, Pagliaro noted, “In at least 11 states, including Massachusetts, the government may seize your property, sell it, and leave you with nothing.”


“The New England Legal Foundation” NELF President Daniel B. Winslow added, “is the leading voice for property rights and economic liberty in New England, and we are proud to add our advocacy to this important case.”



About the New England Legal Foundation

The New England Legal Foundation (NELF – is the leading non-profit public interest law firm in the region dedicated to addressing policy and constitutional concerns related to economic freedom. NELF’s ongoing mission is to champion free enterprise, property rights, limited government based on rule of law, and inclusive economic growth. NELF challenges actions by governments and special interests which would unreasonably intrude on the economic freedoms of individuals and business enterprises in New England and the nation. We believe that free enterprise is a foundational value of a democratic society and the best opportunity for people to lift themselves to prosperity.



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