While corporations making billions of dollars in revenue continue to avoid paying taxes and as wealthy individuals in the United States continue to pay a lower and lower tax rate, the poor of America continue to pick up the tab and pay the highest price to try and pick up the slack of the rich.
On the day Bennie Coleman lost his house, the day armed U.S. marshals came to his door and ordered him off the property, he slumped in a folding chair across the street and watched the vestiges of his 76 years hauled to the curb.
Movers carted out his easy chair, his clothes, his television. Next came the things that were closest to his heart: his Marine Corps medals and photographs of his dead wife, Martha. The duplex in Northeast Washington that Coleman bought with cash two decades earlier was emptied and shuttered. By sundown, he had nowhere to go.
All because he didn’t pay a $134 property tax bill.
How can something like this happen? Because the District of Columbia sells these tax debts to predatory debt collectors who then charge interest, legal fees and other costs which inflate the original debt by 40 or 50 times the original amount.
Investors also took storefronts, parking lots and vacant land — about 500 properties in all, or an average of one a week. In dozens of cases, the liens were less than $500.
Coleman, struggling with dementia, was among those who lost a home. His debt had snowballed to $4,999 — 37 times the original tax bill. Not only did he lose his $197,000 house, but he also was stripped of the equity because tax lien purchasers are entitled to everything, trumping even mortgage companies.
Welcome to your new oligarchy. Where elderly veterans with dementia are allowed to lose their homes over a piddling amount of money while the wealthy line up to snatch up their property at a fraction of the price and then receive tax credits to build on the property.
What do you think should be done with these predatory debt collectors? Should municipal governments be allowed to sell their debts to these places?