NTUF Fights to Defend Landowner's Rights in Massachusetts


On November 30, NTUF’s Taxpayer Defense Center filed a brief in Town of Tyngsborough v. Recco with the Massachusetts Land Court. We were invited by the judge to submit the brief to offer guidance on how Massachusetts law should be squared with Tyler v. Hennepin County, the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the government foreclosing upon a person’s property but not giving the original owner whatever surplus may exist after the sale (i.e. the difference between the amount owed in taxes and amount earned in the sale).

In our amicus curiae brief, we explained that the Massachusetts law is unconstitutional, as it “provide[s] the city with absolute title and not provide[s] the owner with any surplus after the sale.” We stressed how the effect of the Massachusetts law is similar to that struck down in Tyler v. Hennepin County as “[b]oth systems purport to force the taxpayer to lose title to their land, and thus any subsequent sale’s proceeds go to the government, not the citizen.” Given Tyler’s holding, we urged the Massachusetts Land Court to find Massachusetts’s foreclosure law unconstitutional.

We also addressed that there was no workaround for the Land Court to avoid the Massachusetts law’s unconstitutionality. The Land Court could not, for example, claim that it was acting under an eminent domain procedure.

This case is critical to protecting Massachusetts landowners’ rights. We will continue to monitor this case and fight in this space to protect individuals’ rights to enjoy the remaining funds from their land in a tax foreclosure sale.