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Grand Theft Government – The DC Govrnment Steals Poor Resident’s Property With Tax Scam

Anyone familiar with the DC Government, and who drives into the city is likely familiar with their Parking Gestapo, who write tickets and tow away cars to the tune of millions of dollars a month.

A new line of theft has recently opened up for the DC Government Mafia,  the theft of homes from the poor and elderly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity, often for tax bills as little as $200. Often the people who are ultimately robbed of their property are sick and old, and in a number of cases the property owners have been in the hospital dying while most of their paltry savings in the value of their homes is ripped off.

And here you thought the only criminals in the city were Gangbangers and carjackers. They should have it so good.

Unscrupulous law firms facilitate the theft, as does a dirty courts system – through charging sky high rates, rapidly pushing up the bills owed by the property owners beyond reach.This is a criminal enterprise, no different than the Tammany Hall of yore, which dispossessed Irish immigrants to make way for developers in the notorious 5 Points section of New York City.

The Federal Government is complicit. To be honest, if they really gave a damn about anything except the press for catching a city Mayor smoking crack with his mistress – they would have put a stop to this.

 

On an overcast morning earlier this year, Bennie Coleman walked past his old house on the way to the corner store. But he said he could not look at it — the memories were too painful. Bennie, who suffers from dementia, had his $200,000 property foreclosed for a $134.00 tax lien, and the company which foreclosed kept the difference under DC Law.

 

LIENS, LOSS AND PROFITEERS

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.

The retired Marine sergeant lost his house on that summer day two years ago through a tax lien sale — an obscure program run by D.C. government that enlists private investors to help the city recover unpaid taxes.

For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid.

But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.

As the housing market soared, the investors scooped up liens in every corner of the city, then started charging homeowners thousands in legal fees and other costs that far exceeded their original tax bills, with rates for attorneys reaching $450 an hour.

Families have been forced to borrow or strike payment plans to save their homes.

Others weren’t as lucky. Tax lien purchasers have foreclosed on nearly 200 houses since 2005 and are now pressing to take 1,200 more, many owned free and clear by families for generations.

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.

Thomas McRae ran a flower shop on the first floor in this house on Sherman Avenue NW. But a tax lien investor from Florida foreclosed while McRae was under hospice care.

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.

“This is destroying lives,” said Christopher Leinberger, a distinguished scholar and research professor of urban real estate at George Washington University.

Officials at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue said that without tax sales, property owners wouldn’t feel compelled to pay their bills.

“The tax sale is the last resort. It’s also the first resort — it’s the only way in the statute to collect debt,” said deputy chief financial officer Stephen Cordi.

But the District, a hotbed for the tax lien industry, has done little to shield its most vulnerable homeowners from unscrupulous operators.

Foreclosures have upended families in some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods. Houses were taken from a housekeeper, a department store clerk, a seamstress and even the estates of dead people. The hardest hit: elderly homeowners, who were often sick or dying when tax lien purchasers seized their houses.

One 65-year-old flower shop owner lost his Northwest Washington home of 40 years after a company from Florida paid his back taxes — $1,025 — and then took the house through foreclosure while he was in hospice, dying of cancer. A 95-year-old church choir leader lost her family home to a Maryland investor over a tax debt of $44.79 while she was struggling with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home.

Other cities and states took steps to curb abuses, such as capping the fees, safeguarding houses owned by the elderly or scrapping tax sales altogether and instead collecting the money themselves.

“Where is the justice? They’re taking people’s lives,” said Beverly Smalls, whose elderly aunt lost her home in Northeast Washington. “It’s just not right.”

In a 10-month investigation, The Post chronicled years of breakdowns and abuses in a program that puts at risk one of the most fundamental possessions in American life.

  • Of the nearly 200 homeowners who lost their properties in recent years, one in three had liens of less than $1,000.

  • More than half of the foreclosures were in the city’s two poorest wards, 7 and 8, where dozens of owners were forced to leave their homes just months before purchasers sold them. One foreclosed on a brick house near the Maryland border with a $287 lien and sold it less than eight weeks later for $129,000.

  • More than 40 houses were taken by companies whose representatives were caught breaking laws in other states to win liens.

  • Instead of stepping in, the D.C. tax office created more problems by selling nearly 1,900 liens by mistake in the past six years — even after owners paid their taxes — forcing unsuspecting families into legal battles that have lasted for years. One 64-year-old woman spent two years fighting to save her home in Northwest after the tax office erroneously charged her $8.61 in interest. (more)

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in American Greed, Domestic terrorism

 

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Tax Extension, Thanks to “The Last Colony”

Automobile Tags in the District of Columbia have carried the words “Taxation Without Representation” for years. Sometimes referring to the City as “The Last Colony”, because the Capital City has no voting rights in Congress, City Politicians and activists have campaigned hard through the years for DC to receive Statehood status. The addition of one voting Congressman and two Senators has been resisted heavily by Republicans. The reason for that is similar to the Missouri Compromise, where  the slave states demanded that a slave state be added to the Union for every free state. DC is heavily Democrat. Obviously, Republicans don’t want another “free state” with Senators who might shift the dynamics of power in Congress, in a situation erily similar to the position of their ideological forbears.

In any event – those of us living in the (shrinking) majority of the country which does get the sometimes questionable “benefit” of a voting Congressman and Senator,  get a 3 day  “emancipation” of sorts because of a DC Holiday. The Holiday ironically is “Emancipation Day“…

Nine months before President Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation, he signed into law the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, which ended slavery in the nation’s capital.More than 3,100 slaves were freed immediately, and “loyal Unionist” masters were compensated up to $300 per freed slave (roughly $6,000 in today’s currency).

Federal tax filing deadline pushed back 3 days, to April 18, because DC holiday falls on 15th

The filing deadline is delayed because the District of Columbia will observe Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15. By law, local holidays in the nation’s capital impact tax deadlines the same way federal holidays would, the Internal Revenue Service said.

Taxpayers will have until midnight Monday, April 18, to file their 2010 returns. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their returns.

Emancipation Day marks the occasion when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Lincoln signed the bill on April 16, 1862, more than eight months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which eventually led to all slaves being freed.

The IRS expects to process more than 140 million individual tax returns this year. Most taxpayers can fill out their returns and file them as soon as they receive all their tax documents from employers, banks and other financial institutions. Some taxpayers, however, will have to wait to file until mid- to late February to file their returns because of late changes to the 2010 tax law passed by Congress in December.

The IRS said it needs more time to re-program its processing systems to take into account the new law. The agency plans to announce a more definitive filing date before then.

Those who must wait to file include people who itemize their deductions, taxpayers who claim a deduction for college tuition and fees, and school teachers who claim a deduction for out-of-pocket classroom expenses.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2011 in Black History, News

 

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DC Passes Same Sex Marraige Bill

With an 11-2 vote, the DC City Council passed legislation allowing same sex marriage. DC Mayor Fenty has promised to sign the bill.

Under DC’s “Home Rule” provision – any law passed by the City Council and signed by the Mayor must be approved by both houses of the US Congress and signed by the President within 30 legislative days.

Republicans have promised to fight the law when it faces Congressional Approval.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2009 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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The Scene In DC

The Washington Post has been doing a series called “Style in DC”. While DC isn’t a big city, and doesn’t have the ethnic neighborhoods of the industrial cities to the North – each of the neighborhoods and areas discussed has a unique flavor. This first video is about “U” Street, an area which before desegregation was where the shops, theaters, and clubs were. Today, it’s still jumping –

This next one is on the Duke Ellington School of the Arts –

The Style on Capitol Hill. Lot of blue and gray suits, and a tie regimen at the Democrat and Republican Clubs, but the Hill still rocks in it’s own unique way –

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2009 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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