Thursday, May 25, 2023
The Supreme Court ruled today that a county violates the Takings Clause when it seizes and sells property for taxes due, but retains the surplus value above the outstanding tax bill. The ruling means that Hennepin County, Minnesota, owes property owner Geraldine Tyler the $25,000 surplus that it retained after satisfying her overdue tax bill.
The case, Tyler v. Hennepin County, arose when the County seized and sold Tyler's property after she failed to pay $15,000 in taxes. The County sold the property for $40,000 and kept the extra $25,000. Tyler sued, arguing that the County violated the Takings Clause.
A unanimous Court agreed. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that history and precedent both say that the government can't take more than it's owed, and that a taxpayer is entitled to the surplus.
Justice Gorsuch wrote a concurrence, joined by Justice Jackson, arguing that the lower courts also erred in dismissing Tyler's Eighth Amendment Excessive Fines Clause claim.