Private companies can make more than your property is worth if you fail to pay taxes

The Boston Globe has a harrowing story about a wild tax law that exists in Massachusetts and about a dozen other states, which lets private companies to buy up properties that are in arrears with the state, and keep whatever equity is left. In other words: if you don't pay your property taxes, a private business can buy the rights to your property from the state, pay the state for the back taxes and interest, and then keep your entire property for whatever value it's worth now.

The Mucciaccio home has no mortgage. The tiny house is assessed for just $61,100, but the land it sits on is valued at $224,500. They currently owe about $30,000 in taxes, fees, and interest — the amount owed to the private company that took over the lien on the property.

After the taxes are paid, that would leave about $255,000 in equity.

Is it fair for them to lose $255,000 to pay off a debt of $30,000?


The Town of Easton first slapped a lien on the Mucciaccios' property in 2017 for unpaid taxes of a little less than $4,000. A year later, Tallage Lincoln paid off the Mucciaccios' tax debt and then continued to pay the taxes on the property. By taking over the lien, it obtained from the town the right to pursue ownership of the property by getting a foreclosure order in court.

In this case, the Mucciaccios family is actually being defended by a Libertarian law firm called the Pacific Legal Foundation, who believes that it's pretty freakin' ridiculous for a private company to step in and pay off someone's tax debt without their permission, in order to stake a legal claim on their entire property value.

In Mass., private companies can make a killing, legally, if you can't keep up with your property taxes [Sean P. Murphy / The Boston Globe]

Image: Public Domain via NeedPix