Michigan — October 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Kalamazoo women to lose home after a 3-year old delinquent tax bill she didn’t know she owed


This story hasn’t gotten much attention which is surprising since it’s so outrageous. In 2008, Deborah Calley was in a horrendous auto accident that nearly left her permanently brain damaged. In 2010, she purchased a home in Richland, Michigan, just outside of Kalamazoo, paying cash for the home. In 2011, she made two tax payments but, unbeknownst to her, she owed a third tax payment for $2,000.

This past spring, the County began foreclosure proceedings over the missed tax payment. The County says they sent 10 notices to Calley but all but one of them went to banks with whom she has no affiliation and the one sent to her was returned to the County; she never saw it.

When she paid her 2012 taxes, nobody mentioned to her that she had an outstanding bill.

Calley is willing to write the County a check today for the taxes she owes but the County isn’t having it. They plan to sell the $164,000 home for $80,000 and, this week, a judge gave the go-ahead, saying that the County made reasonable attempts to contact Calley.

For its part, County officials say it’s too late, though Calley’s attorney begs to differ:

“This is an absolute abuse of power by the Kalamazoo County Treasurer’s Office,” Johnson said. “This is a civil proceeding. This can be set aside by an agreement between the lawyers with the approval of the judge. All the judge cares about is that everything’s done legally and fairly. If Deb were to pay her taxes and the county were to agree to set aside the foreclosure all would be fine.”

I get that we can’t have people shirking paying their taxes. It hurts all of us when that happens. But this case looks like an innocent mistake, committed by someone who was facing massive physical and psychological challenges after a car accident. Why on earth Kalamazoo County officials don’t simply allow her to make this right is perplexing and more than a little enraging.

Calley has one more chance to appeal. Hopefully the County will do the right thing.

[CC Facepalm image credit: Cesar Astudillo | Flickr]