The son-in-law of a man whose house was taken from him because he underpaid his taxes by $8.41 said in an interview that aired Tuesday on “Rising” that he was shocked it could happen in the United States.
“You can’t confiscate a house for such a ridiculous amount,” Yair Adegeko, the son-in-law of Uri Rafaeli, told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton earlier this month.
“If you would say it will be in eastern Europe, I understand that. If you say it [happened] in Russia, or whatever, or in other countries I don’t want to insult, that’s okay,” he continued. “But in the biggest democracy in the world, I couldn’t believe that.”
Adegeko’s comments come after the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last year that county governments are permitted to use civil asset forfeiture to seize rental properties.
The case centers around Oakland County in Michigan, which foreclosed on Rafaeli’s property in 2014 after he accidentally underpaid his property taxes by $8.41 in 2013.
The property was then sold at auction in 2014 for $24,500, but the county did not refund Rafaeli any of the profits collected.
“This is the kind of thing that shouldn’t happen in the United States, and in fact, it can only happen in five states,” Jonathan Wood, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, told Sexton in the same interview. “But in Michigan, until the Supreme Court overrules it, counties are able to take property over minor debts, sell them and keep every single penny.”
The practice is also legal in Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Oregon.
Rafaeli’s story was first brought to light by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which discussed the issue in a Wall Street Journal op-ed released earlier this month, detailing the issue.
— Julia Manchester